The last refugees — a Sudanese mother, father and their 10 children — arrived at the Kansas City resettlement agency in mid-July.
No more have come to Jewish Vocational Service since then because President Donald Trump’s cap on refugees entering the country was reached — 50,000 for the year, less than half of what the Obama administration called for.
As a result, two rounds of layoffs have followed at the Kansas City agency, slashing the staff of caseworkers who resettled 450 people this fiscal year, many of them from Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan, Congo and Syria.
Similar cutbacks are happening at resettlement agencies nationwide, unraveling networks that have been in place for years. Refugees, arguably the world’s most desperate people, are braced for more bad news.
Word leaked this week that Trump will lower the limit again for the next fiscal year, to 45,000, the lowest number in decades. The administration’s explanation passes neither factual nor moral scrutiny.
The world is seeing unprecedented numbers of people — an estimated 65.6 million — displaced by war, famine, genocide and terrorism. Only a fraction, 22.5 million, are refugees, meaning they no longer have a native land to live in — at least, not without risking death.
They are not economic migrants seeking more opportunity in a foreign land. They have been forced into their nation-less status by horrifying hardships that set them apart from past waves of immigrants who for generations have come to the U.S., legally and not.
It’s a status granted by the United Nations. That is the first of many checks that they undergo. Ten U.S. government agencies are involved before they can be granted entry to the U.S. Yes, this is extreme vetting.
The process separates U.S. refugees from the migrants crossing borders in Europe, desperately fleeing war and persecution in their homelands.
The Trump White House erroneously claims that the vetting process is too expensive and that refugees cost the nation more than they contribute.
Yes, money is spent to help them learn English, find housing and jobs, as they prepare to be self-sufficient. But refugees tend to be far more entrepreneurial than many U.S.-born people.
Not wanting to face those facts, the Trump administration tried to deep-six a Health and Human Services report that found refugees contributed $63 billion more than what they cost between 2005 and 2014.
Facts be darned, this administration is poised to turn its back on a global humanitarian crisis, showing the rest of the world our crueler side.