The United States effectively halted asylum during the coronavirus pandemic. The Trump administration has implemented a public health emergency rule to immediately return most migrants crossing the border for asylum to Mexico or their home countries, eliminating the possibility of seeking protection.
The refugee program has also been temporarily suspended due to the coronavirus. Immigration supporters say the government’s rigorous scrutiny system and ever lower cap have stranded some of the world’s most desperate people.
The government’s approach “leaves tens of thousands of the most vulnerable refugees at risk and, in many cases, separated from their families,”
Mr. Trump’s attack on the refugee system was multifaceted. Last year, the president issued an executive order that allowed state and local governments to veto the resettlement of refugees. Critics said this would fuel the division and energize Mr Trump’s supporters. This order is currently being blocked by a lawsuit making its way through the judicial system. Most states have also chosen to accept refugees.
Mr Trump also ended the system of reserving slots for Africa, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Central Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean and instead carved out slots for 4,000 Iraqis who worked in the U.S. military, 1,500 for people from Central America, and 5,000 for people who are persecuted for their religion. The additional 7,500 places were reserved for others who were seeking family reunification and had been cleared for resettlement.
But even with such low numbers, the administration has not manned the data, according to the Foreign Ministry. Of the 4,000 openings for Iraqis who helped the military, only 123 were welcomed in the United States.
“They are continuing to cut what is normally considered legal immigration routes,” said David Lapan, former Department of Homeland Security spokesman in the Trump administration. “They say they want people to get in line and follow the system unless they do everything to change that system.”