Democrats decry Trump's push to slash number of accepted refugees

Democrats decry Trump's push to slash number of accepted refugees

Several Democrats on Thursday slammed an attempt by the Trump administration to cut down the maximum number of refugees the country will accept to 18,000 for fiscal year 2020, a record low. 

Those condemning the change included presidential candidates Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharRepublicans wrestle with impeachment strategy Klobuchar takes shots at health and education plans supported by Sanders and Warren O'Rourke campaign says path to victory hinges on top 5 finishes in Iowa, Nevada MORE (D-Minn.), former Rep. Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeButtigieg pushes back on O'Rourke threat to strip religious institutions of tax-exempt status O'Rourke raises .5 million in third quarter Conservatives slam Beto O'Rourke over threat to tax-exempt status for religious organizations MORE (D-Texas) and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro. Other Democratic lawmakers also expressed disapproval. 

Last year, the refugee cap was set at 30,000. 

"No country has ever been proud of denying shelter to refugees," wrote O'Rourke. 

"Sad irony: We have a President who shuts out people who seek to live in a democracy at the same time he undermines that democracy," wrote Klobuchar, alluding to allegations of wrongdoing by President TrumpDonald John TrumpWHCA calls on Trump to denounce video depicting him shooting media outlets Video of fake Trump shooting members of media shown at his Miami resort: report Trump hits Fox News's Chris Wallace over Ukraine coverage MORE on a phone call with the president of Ukraine. 

"In the face of impeachment, President Trump is going back to his old habit of inflicting cruelty on innocent people to rally his base," posted Castro, referencing Democrats' impeachment inquiry  into the president. "Refugee resettlement saves lives and makes America stronger. As President, I will #StandWithRefugees."

"No administration has ever proposed admitting this few refugees. America was once a beacon of hope to those suffering under oppression," Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinSchiff should consider using RICO framework to organize impeachment We need answers to questions mainstream media won't ask about Democrats The Hill's Morning Report - Trump grapples with Syria fallout MORE (D-Calif.) said in a statement. "We welcomed the tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free."

"When people like Trump feel threatened they respond by trying to take their pain out on others. I’m afraid we'll be seeing a lot of moves like this in the coming weeks. It's going to be a rough ride," tweeted Rep. Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) John Ryan2020 Presidential Candidates Democrats decry Trump's push to slash number of accepted refugees Harris on whistleblower complaint: 'This is a cover-up' MORE (D-Ohio), who is also running for president.  

"Today’s action by this administration is part of their continued assault on those that are most vulnerable," Rep. Marc VeaseyMarc Allison VeaseyDemocrats decry Trump's push to slash number of accepted refugees Lawmakers beat Capitol Police in Congressional Football Game Why the Helsinki Commission still matters MORE (D-Texas) said on Twitter. "This is utterly shameful and goes against our American values."

The departments of State, Homeland Security (DHS) and Health and Human Services submitted the proposed admission cap to Congress in a Thursday report. 

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan defended the change in a statement. 

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“The Administration’s proposal for refugee admissions in Fiscal Year 2020 will allow the Department of Homeland Security to focus on addressing the ongoing crisis at the southern border, reducing a staggering asylum backlog that unfairly delays relief for those with meritorious claims, and completing more overall cases in an increasingly multifaceted humanitarian workload,” he said. 

A senior official told reporters that refugees persecuted for their religious beliefs, Iraqis who have assisted the United States and nationals from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador would be prioritized. 

The changes follows several other moves by the administration to limit the number of migrants and asylum-seekers reaching the U.S. It has pursued a policy that restricts the amount of migrants who can claim asylum in the U.S. if they came from Central America.

It has also announced a "public charge" rule which would make a person's ability to receive a green card dependent on whether or not they used certain public assistance programs.