‘Bureaucratic strangulation’ is walling off America to refugees

‘Bureaucratic strangulation’ is walling off America to refugees

By Luke Vargas   
A young boy looks out from a covered playground at the Zaatari Refugee Camp, located near Mafraq, Jordan. UN Photo/Mark Garten
A young boy looks out from a covered playground at the Zaatari Refugee Camp, located near Mafraq, Jordan. UN Photo/Mark Garten life and people living in the camp

A new report urges President Trump to clear bureaucratic hurdles that are bogging down the U.S. refugee resettlement program.

UNITED NATIONS – The Trump Administration is subjecting America’s refugee resettlement program to “bureaucratic strangulation.” That’s the charge coming from campaigners eager to see the U.S. continue to shelter large numbers of those fleeing war and violence around the world.

To put things in perspective, as President Obama left office, he set a ambitious goal of admitting 115,000 people into the U.S. in 2017.

President Trump immediately lowered that target to 50,000 for 2017 and 45,000 in 2018, though actual admissions are likely to be far lower.

Daniel Schneiderman is the Deputy U.S. Program Director for the International Crisis Group:

“I think we’re going to end up somewhere around 21,000. And admissions are going to be – what I believe to be – an all-time low for the program, especially in the post-9/11 world.”

Since President Trump sets the refugee admissions target, he’s often the only one capable of clearing bureaucratic roadblocks thrown up by various government agencies. But Schneiderman says Trump is doing the opposite.

“You certainly haven’t seen an interest in trying to overcome the bureaucratic hurdles that have arisen in getting the programs to be effective. We spoke to someone who said that every time there’s a bureaucratic problem that arises or a security check that’s causing problems, the administration is tickled pink.”

Schneiderman regrets the U.S. scaling back its moral leadership on refugee policy, but says undermining global refugee resettlement goals has strategic consequences, too, making it harder for America’s allies in the Middle East to convince refugee-wary populations they’ve got things under control.

“What incentive does the Turkish government have to take in Syrian refugees who flee if there isn’t a vibrant and strong U.N. refugee resettlement program that the U.S. is helping to facilitate? So these kinds of decisions to spin down a program – irrespective of the nasty rhetoric that you see coming out of the [Trump] administration, at least some parts of it – they have broader strategic implications for how refugees are treated around the world.”

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