How many refugees would the next president admit to the US?

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Muna*, a 12-year-old Syrian girl from Eastern Ghouta, stands on a concrete block next to her home in Jordan’s Za’atari camp. *Name changed. Photo: Oxfam/Nesma Ainsour

Read what 2020 candidates have promised so far.

Every single day, families worldwide are forced to leave their homes in search of safety and a better life elsewhere. Fleeing conflict, violence, and persecution, many escape with nothing but the clothes on their backs and put their hopes and dreams in the US.

Every September, the President announces the target number of refugees to be resettled in the US over the next year via a formal Presidential Determination. In the final year of the Obama administration, the US resettled 84,995 refugees, well short of our nation’s “fair share” of the global refugee crisis but in-line with historical averages. And just last month, the Trump administration announced a historically low target of 18,000.

Today, there are more than 25 million refugees. The next President, whoever they are, will have immense power over the decision of resettling refugees. So we looked at the plans of all of the Democratic candidates that qualified for the October debate and the four declared Republicans running for President to see how many refugees they are promising to admit in 2021 if they are elected.

Here’s what the candidates have promised so far:


DEMOCRATS

Elizabeth Warren

Number of Refugees They Would Admit in 2021
125,000

Additional Info
“Dramatically reducing the number of refugees allowed into the United States is a failure of moral leadership”[1]

“I’ll welcome 125,000 refugees in my first year, and ramping up to at least 175,000 refugees per year by the end of my first term.”[2]

Amy Kolbuchar

Number of Refugees They Would Admit in 2021
At least 110,000

Additional Info
Co-sponsor of the Grace Act and supports resettling at least 110,000 refugees a year.[3]

Bernie Sanders

Number of Refugees They Would Admit in 2021
At least 110,000

Additional Info
“We must strengthen and expand our support for refugees fleeing war and violence and do our part in the international community to provide relief…We must also pursue a foreign policy that does not destabilize large swaths of the globe, and mount an aggressive response to climate change to ensure the root causes of global migration both now and in the future are addressed.”[4]

Supports resettling at least 110,000 refugees a year.[5]

Beto O’Rourke

Number of Refugees They Would Admit in 2021
At least 110,000

Additional Info
Supports resettling at least 110,000 refugees a year.[6]

Cory Booker

Number of Refugees They Would Admit in 2021
At least 110,000

Additional Info
“Booker wants to repeal the Remain in Mexico policy, asylum metering, the travel ban and refugee restrictions, and stop construction of the border wall… Booker will also bring back federal funding for sanctuary cities and raise the refugee cap to 110,000.”[7]

Supports resettling at least 110,000 refugees a year.

Joe Biden

Number of Refugees They Would Admit in 2021
At least 110,000

Additional Info
Biden committed to “Reverse Trump’s detrimental asylum policies and raise our target for refugee admissions to a level commensurate with our responsibility and unprecedented global need.”[8]

Supports resettling at least 110,000 refugees a year.[9]

Julian Castro

Number of Refugees They Would Admit in 2021
At least 110,000

Additional Info
“I would expand out the refugee program to include folks displaced by natural disasters and our changing climate.” [10]

Supports resettling at least 110,000 refugees a year.[11]

Pete Buttigieg

Number of Refugees They Would Admit in 2021
At least 110,000

Additional Info
Wants to “Restore our global leadership in humanitarian relief for refugees.”[12]

Supports resettling at least 110,000 refugees a year.[13]

Kamala Harris

Number of Refugees They Would Admit in 2021
At least 95,000

Additional Info
When introducing the Grace Act, Harris said “We cannot allow this administration to abdicate our country’s moral responsibility to welcome children and families fleeing ongoing violence and oppression… the United States I know is a place where refugees are welcomed and encouraged to contribute to society.”[14]

The Grace Act would prevent the Presidential Determination from falling below 95,000.

Andrew Yang

Number of Refugees They Would Admit in 2021
Unknown

Additional Info
On the PD: “I would support an increase from our current levels…The precise number would be determined by the specific situations and circumstances.”[15]

Tom Steyer

Number of Refugees They Would Admit in 2021
Unknown

Additional Info
On January of 2017, Steyer participated in protests at San Francisco International Airport as part of a nationwide protest against the Muslim Ban.[16]

Tulsi Gabbard

Number of Refugees They Would Admit in 2021
Unknown

Additional Info
“It’s critical to allow refugees to seek solace in our country, while simultaneously addressing the root causes of the crisis.”[17]

When asked by the Washington Post if she supports resettling at least 110,000 refugees a year, she did not respond.


REPUBLICANS

Bill Weld

Number of Refugees They Would Admit in 2021
Unknown

Additional Info
No commitment or statement found

Donald Trump

Number of Refugees They Would Admit in 2021
Unknown

Additional Info
Before the last Presidential determination of 18,000, media reports indicated that President Trump was considering a Presidential Determination of zero.

Joe Walsh

Number of Refugees They Would Admit in 2021
Unknown

Additional Info
No commitment or statement found

Mark Sanford

Number of Refugees They Would Admit in 2021
Unknown

Additional Info
On Trump’s Muslim Ban, Sanford said “"And that even if you're going to enact this policy, the way in which it was done just seems bizarre."[18][19]

[1] Washington Post https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/politics/policy-2020/immigration/

[2] Medium article by Warren’s team https://medium.com/@teamwarren/a-fair-and-welcoming-immigration-system-8fff69cd674e

[3] Washington Post https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/politics/policy-2020/immigration/

[4] Washington Post https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/politics/policy-2020/immigration/

[5] Washington Post https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/politics/policy-2020/immigration/

[6] Washington Post https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/politics/policy-2020/immigration/

[7] Axios, https://www.axios.com/cory-booker-immigrant-reform-plan-d4797467-563f-43d9-9ff6-48949ae0f0fb.html

[8] Biden’s website https://joebiden.com/AmericanLeadership/

[9] Washington Post https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/politics/policy-2020/immigration/

[10] Washington Post https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/politics/policy-2020/immigration/

[11] Washington Post https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/politics/policy-2020/immigration/

[12] Buttigieg’s website https://peteforamerica.com/issues/#Immigration

[13] Washington Post https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/politics/policy-2020/immigration/

[14] Harris’s website https://www.harris.senate.gov/news/press-releases/harris-colleagues-introduce-legislation-to-welcome-refugees-to-the-united-states

[15] Washington Post https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/politics/policy-2020/immigration/

[16] LA Times https://www.latimes.com/politics/essential/la-pol-ca-essential-politics-updates-201701-htmlstory.html#top-democratic-donor-tom-steyer-is-planning-a-larger-role-opposing-president-trump

[17] Gabbard’s website https://www.tulsigabbard.org/tulsi-gabbard-on-refugees

[18] Politico https://www.politico.com/story/2019/07/18/trump-officials-refugee-zero-1603503

[19] Greenville News https://www.greenvilleonline.com/story/news/politics/2017/01/30/heres-where-sc-congressmen-stand-trumps-immigration-executive-order/97240976/

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