State Department Lifts Limit on Refugee Admissions

The U.S. State Department has raised the limit on the number of refugees allowed into the country even as President Trump seeks to reduce the influx of refugees. While there was no public announcement made on the move, refugee groups were made aware of the decision in an email from a State Department official on Thursday, according to The New York Times. In that email, the official, Jennifer Smith, informed the groups that they could begin arranging for refugees’ entry “unconstrained by the weekly quotas that were in place.” The department’s earlier quota on refugees’ entry was reportedly the result of budget constraints, and the spending bill passed by Congress earlier this month allowed the department to ease restrictions. The move is expected to see a spike in the number of refugees entering the country after the numbers hit new lows earlier this year as a result of confusion over Trump’s immigration policies. Trump has sought to slash the number of refugees allowed in from 110,000 to 50,000 annually, though refugee groups say the State Department’s decision could see more than 70,000 refugees allowed entry in the current fiscal year. Advocates for refugee rights welcomed the move but expressed concerns it may only be fleeting. “The president’s proposed budget cuts for 2018 would mean we would have a much smaller program next year no matter what happens with his executive orders,” Erol Kekic, executive director of the immigration and refugee program at Church World Service, told the New York Times.