Should Trump maintain the refugee quota program?
- The 1951 Refugee Convention defines a refugee as “someone who is unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion.”
- After the Vietnam War, between 1975 and 1979, 300,000 of the Vietnamese and Cambodian refugees came to the United States. The influx of refugees urged on the necessity of a new immigration policy.
- President Jimmy Carter signed the Refugee Act of 1980 that amended the previous immigration and refugee act raising the annual maximum for refugees from 17,400 to 50,000. Each year, the standing president is required to state the new refugee cap by October 1.
- The Trump administration decided on a cap of 18,000 refugees for 2020, down from 30,000 in the one that ended Sept. 30, 2019.
President Trump is right to suspend the refugee quota as 2020's special circumstances demand this be done for a couple of key reasons. Firstly, we're dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has had a devastating impact on unemployment and homelessness (aside from its obvious death toll). Secondly, violent protests have plagued our cities in the wake of George Floyd's death while in police custody at the end of May.
To make matters worse, the rise in the number of homeless families in Los Angeles alone is a whopping 45.7 % in 2020. Absorbing additional refugees in an environment of economic uncertainty and a homelessness crisis is irresponsible, adding to taxpayers' already heavy burden. The nationwide riots have caused nearly $2 billion property in damage, rising violence as measured by shootings have doubled in New York City alone this year. Portland, Oregon's 218 shootings in July and August represent nearly triple the totals from 2019. First responders are already challenged to deal with the fallout from 2020's racial strife. Introducing more refugees into such a volatile situation in our nation's cities seems unwise at best.
For the reasons cited above, it's prudent for President Trump to prioritize America's needs to stabilize the healthcare crisis COVID-19 represents, recover from the economic fallout the pandemic has wrought, and quell the still-raging civil unrest that is roiling our cities. Reducing the quota on the number of refugees is a necessary measure.
According to the 1980 Refugee Act, the president is required by law to set the number of refugees allowed into the United States before October first each year. It is his duty, and he cannot avoid this obligation simply because he doesn't like immigration. Donald Trump has made it clear that he wants to be known as a 'law and order' president, and in that case, he must follow the laws himself.
The refugee quota program is a valuable system that provides relief for individuals and families from some of the world's worst situations. As a world leader, the United States must do its utmost to help all people in need. After all, we are a nation of immigrants, with most of our ancestors coming in search of a better life. The refugee quota program is also very beneficial for the United States as it increases diversity and brings in more people to contribute to the economy.
If the president wants to discontinue the refugee program, he should do it through the proper channels. Legislation should be put through congress so that the people have a say in the matter. Simply letting it expire is cowardly and not an effective form of governance. Most likely, President Trump knows that he is out of touch with mainstream America on immigration and that if the population had a say, the refugee quota program would survive. President Trump should see this is a valuable program for both Americans and refugees, and allowing the quotas to expire without fulfilling his obligation to fill them is tantamount to neglecting his duty.