US President Donald Trump has slashed US admissions of refugees to a record low of no more than fifteen thousand as he fiercely denounced migrants from Somalia and other war-torn nations on the campaign trail.
The State Department announced the number just half an hour before the start of the 2021 fiscal year at midnight Thursday, narrowly meeting a deadline set by US law.
The fifteen thousand figure -- the maximum who can be admitted over the next 12 months barring a change in administration -- is a further cut from 18,000 last year and down dramatically from more than one lakh under previous president Barack Obama.
Trump boasted of his efforts to hinder refugees at a campaign rally late Wednesday in Minnesota. "Overwhelming public resources, overcrowding schools and inundating your hospitals," Trump said of refugees. "It's a disgrace what they've done to your state." Scholars widely dispute that migrants are a drain on public resources, pointing to economic benefits of newcomers.
Trump's Democratic rival in the November 3 elections, Joe Biden, has pledged to raise the refugee cap back to one lakh twenty five thousand, saying that welcoming the persecuted is in line with US values.
"Biden will turn Minnesota into a refugee camp”, Trump said, describing the former vice president's proposed reversal of his cuts as a "700 % increase" in refugees from "the most dangerous places in the world including Yemen, Syria and your favorite country, Somalia”. "This guy loves Somalia," Trump said.
Trump led the crowd by booing Representative Ilhan Omar, a Somali refugee and vociferous critic of the president who represents Minnesota's largest city Minneapolis.
Trump launched his 2016 campaign on vows to keep out Mexican and Muslim immigrants and took heat after a debate Tuesday with Biden for equivocating on condemning white supremacists.