A number of options are being discussed and the zero option already received pushback from some government officials, according to one source.
The crack down on refugees is in line with the administration’s immigration agenda which has sought to limit entry to the US. Earlier this week, the administration also put in place a regulation that bars most Central American migrants from seeking asylum in the US.
Advocates immediately raised alarm over the news that refugee admissions could be reduced to zero.
“The United States is a country built by refugees. To refuse to admit refugees, at a time when there are a record number of people fleeing their homes around the world, is a cowardly, racially motivated abdication of our nation’s values,” said Human Rights First’s Jennifer Quigley.
A number of agencies are expected to submit their recommendations in the coming weeks.
The refugee cap is determined by several departments and agencies, and approved by the President. Where as the cap has often been viewed as a goal to be reached, the actual number of refugees admitted has fallen short. The administration had set the 2018 ceiling at 45,000 refugees, only 23,000 were admitted, according to figures by the Refugee Processing Center.
A State Department spokesperson declined to comment on the interagency conversations.
“Each year, the President makes an annual determination, after appropriate consultation with Congress, regarding the refugee admissions ceiling for the following fiscal year. That determination is expected to be made prior to the start of fiscal year 2020 on October 1, 2019. We have nothing further to announce at this time,” said the spokesperson.
Last year, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the number should not be considered as “the sole barometer” of the United States’ commitment to humanitarian efforts around the world, adding that the US would “focus on the humanitarian protection cases of those already in the country.”