The Trump administration’s proposed ceiling of 45,000 refugees to be resettled in the United States in the new fiscal year is the lowest cap set since the Refugee Act was passed in 1980.
On Wednesday the administration sent to Congress a report on its refugee admission plans for FY 2018. The 45,000 ceiling is a 59 percent drop from the 110,000 cap set by the Obama administration a year ago for FY 2017. (President Trump’s January 27 executive order lowered that to 50,000.)
Since the law signed by President Carter in 1980 raised the annual ceiling from 17,400 to 50,000, the lowest cap until now was 67,000, set by the Reagan administration for FY 1986.
Actual admissions have often fallen below the ceiling set for that year, a pattern especially evident during the years immediately following 9/11.
In FY 2002 and 2003, the Bush administration admitted far fewer refugees than the 70,000 ceiling it set for each year.
In FY 2002, only 27,131 refugees were resettled, 61 percent fewer than the ceiling figure. In FY 2003 admissions rose slightly to 28,403, still 59 percent fewer than the ceiling.
A senior administration official said Wednesday that the aim in FY 2018 would be to admit refugee numbers as close to the ceiling as possible.