America is no longer the global leader in providing safe haven for people fleeing conflict and persecution. Canada has knocked the United States from its perch as the top resettler of refugees — the first time the United States has not held the top spot since 1980.
A new U.N. report reveals that in 2018, Canada resettled 28,100 people, compared to 22,900 in the United States. Canada has a tenth of the population of America and is taking in a proportionally far greater number of refugees, most of whom are women and children.
The need has not been greater since World War II: 70 million people worldwide fled war, persecution, and conflict in 2018, according to the U.N. report.
The Trump administration has slashed refugee admittance caps to record lows, from 110,000 when President Donald Trump entered office down to 30,000 last year. The president, meanwhile, has repeatedly lamented the admission of refugees from predominantly Muslim countries.
72% of refugees admitted into U.S. (2/3 -2/11) during COURT BREAKDOWN are from 7 countries: SYRIA, IRAQ, SOMALIA, IRAN, SUDAN, LIBYA & YEMEN
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 12, 2017
Trump also introduced a ban on travel from several majority-Muslim countries soon after he was sworn into office. Challenged repeatedly in court, the Supreme Court upheld the ban last year.
A report released this week from the International Rescue Committee found that “no religious group has been spared by plummeting refugee admissions — but Muslim refugees have borne the brunt.” Christian refugee admission declined 36%, while Muslim refugee admission declined 85% from 2017 to 2018.
Trump has also targeted those seeking asylum from Central American countries consumed by conflict. The U.N. report found that 54% of asylum applications in the United States came from places like Mexico and Central American countries such as El Salvador, Guatemala, and Venezuela.
While there has been a great deal of national debate about immigration in America, most people think the United States has a moral responsibility to grant asylum to refugees, according to recent polling.
In recent decades, the United States has taken in more refugees than any other country, but it has also excluded more migrants and refugees for obviously racist reasons at other times in its history.
Trump has focused a big part of his political identity around opposition to immigration, asylum-seekers, and admitting refugees.
This antipathy for participating in resettlement threatens lives.
“Resettlement in a new country that is neither the country of origin, nor the country of asylum, remains a life-saving tool to ensure the protection of those refugees most at risk,” the U.N. report read.
At a joint press appearance with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday, Trump opened the floor to reporters, fielding some questions about Iran, but none about refugees. One reporter asked specifically whether the president would invite the NBA Champion Toronto Raptors to the White House. He demurred.