Reducing the number of refugees permitted into the U.S. furthers the Trump administration’s desire to isolate the nation.
Last Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the United States would only accept 30,000 refugees into the country this year. It was a disheartening but in no way a shocking announcement. That is down from the cap of 45,000 refugees allowed by the administration into the United States this year. This does not mean that in the next year America will receive 30,000 refugees, only that we will not take in any more than that. The lower refugee cap fits into Trump’s broader xenophobic view on immigration, but it also provides another example of the United States failing to lead the way in matters of foreign policy under Trump.
The refugee crisis facing the world cannot be understated. People fleeing South Sudan, Syria and Myanmar make up almost 88 percent of those 68.5 million people who have were forcibly displaced from their home country in 2017. The majority of those displaced find sanctuary in countries near the one they just fled. However, Turkey, Bangladesh and Sudan (the countries who accepted the most refugees in 2017) cannot fix the entire refugee crisis alone by providing a new home for all refugees. This is the world’s problem, and the world must find a solution.
In theory, this is where the world leader should step in. A hegemonic power with an unrivaled military, an economy on the upswing and a relatively low population density needs to lead by example. The United States is better suited to tackle this problem than any other nation, but instead, we have turned inward and away from a world in need. The worst part of this decision is that it fits perfectly in with the other foreign policy decisions of the Trump administration.
The Trump administration’s most drastic departure from the norms of the presidency has been on foreign policy. Trump has made three major decisions that highlight this abdication as the world leader: instituting a ban of Muslim immigrants to the United States, withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accords and abandoning the Iran Nuclear Agreement. All of these decisions show a contempt for the international order at large, but the refugee cap and the Muslim ban prove that Trump’s foreign policy is motivated just as much by a fear of immigrants as it is by a contempt for the decisions of Barack Obama.
Trump and the administration officials inherently fear people they view as different. That xenophobia played an important role in getting Trump elected, and like many presidents before him, he governs much like he campaigned: by decrying people of cultures different than his as national security threats. Not all refugees come from countries that Trump views as dangerous, but since a majority do, the administration has no problem with denying many refugees into the United States. Trump views both the international community and refugees as hindrances to his neo-isolationist foreign policy, and he, with the newest cap on refugees, has turned America’s back on both.