Trump Slows Refugee Arrivals

The Trump Administration's plan to drastically curtail the number of refugees coming to the U.S. is having repercussions at refugee resettlement agencies around the country, as they anticipate a decline in business and funding.  President Trump's executive order in late January that placed a temporary ban on immigrants and refugees from seven nations also reduced the cap on total refugees taken in this year by more than half, from 110,000 to 50,000.  While the temporary immigration ban was halted by a federal court, the refugee cap was not part of that court order and thus still stands.

The anticipation of fewer refugees coming to the U.S. is already being considered at the Interfaith Action of Central Texas (IACT), which helps re-settle refugees here in the Lone Star State.  "We can serve refugees for up to five years from the date of their arrival," says Lubna Zeidan, refugee program director for IACT.  "So even a slowdown in arrivals could not necessarily stop our program, because the people are still here."

Still, Zeidan acknowledges that far fewer refugees will be coming in this year.  "The last number I heard is probably only about 10 or 12 thousand for the whole country this year, so it's very possible that in Austin we are going to see a shutdown or a slowdown," she says.  And that means a slowdown in federal funding which groups like hers rely on.  "We expect it to be lowered, especially with (Trump) cutting the number of refugees arriving, so we're just bracing ourselves trying to figure out how we can get the funding to continue doing what we're doing."

Not only is federal funding decreasing, but all state funding and support of refugee resettlement programs has dried up as well.  Last year, Gov. Greg Abbott withdrew Texas from the resettlement program over concerns about vetting of refugees.  "The state officially does not welcome refugees, unfortunately," says Zeidan.  "But the people in the state of Texas are very, very supportive of refugee resettlement."

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