Refugee Admissions Are Down: Trump the Executive in Action

American conservatives are frustrated by government, often saying that even when their candidate wins, that candidate goes on to disappoint. That even when the government is controlled by conservatives, they just do not deliver.

I can offer one clear policy shift where conservatives, and thoughtful liberals, can celebrate real change: the number of refugees flowing into the country has dropped dramatically under the Trump administration.

Federal contractors like Lutheran Social Services and Catholic Charities have been settling more than 3,000 refugees a year in Minnesota; that number is expected to drop to between 300 and 1,600.

Under President Bush, the country was admitting about 50,000 refugees a year. Under President Obama the number climbed from 50,000 to 110,000 as the number of refugees and migrants climbed in an increasingly chaotic world.

Bush and Obama shared essentially same view: that America with all its charms, could successfully settle people from anywhere in the world, no matter their religion, culture or education.

President Trump immediately dropped the goal to Bush-era levels (50,00 refugees) —and has dropped the number again to 45,000 though it is unlikely that many refugees will be admitted.

The administration has done several things resulting in fewer arrivals, some of which have been the subject of federal injunctions (e.g. disallowing people to travel from certain countries like Syria and Somalia that pose a security threat, enforcing rules against polygamy and other illegal practices, and suspending a program that allowed refugees to bring family members here). Trump and Congressional leaders are also talking about ending “friends and family” immigration (chain immigration) that puts immigrants in charge of immigration policy instead of Congress.

Minnesota has a special interest in this common-sense reduction. Our state is the top destination for refugees, settling more refugees on a per capita basis than any other state.

Here is my favorite graph—Figure 4 from the State Demographer. It tells Minnesota’s alarming demographic story for the last few decades: our only net population growth comes from people born outside of the United States. That might be a happy tale except that U.S. citizens are leaving the state in droves—and taking their wealth with them. Good or bad, this booming international migration may not be enough to stave off losing our 8th Congressional District after the 2020 Census. I wrote about that here.

(BTW–I just found out that the domestic migration numbers improved in 2017; I will write about that in a few days.)

For people who value diversity for its own sake, and do not understand that taxpayers, not churches, are footing the refugee bill, Trump’s reforms are an abomination. They reject the idea that culture matters and think that Trump is a barbarian.

Here is the former Dean of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs last weekend in The Wall Street Journal:

“It’s enormously discouraging and dispiriting, and it is another reflection of this administration’s march away from the principle of humanity,” said Eric Schwartz, president of Refugees International, who ran the refugee program at the State Department during the Obama administration.

Dean Schwartz has argued for years that refugees, and diversity in and of itself, make Minnesota stronger. He promised to send me studies and insisted I do a cost benefit analysis—the studies never arrived though I asked for them several times. I guess we are supposed to take it on faith.

For Americans who understand that culture matters—not race or racial diversity in and of itself—and that the welfare state is teetering under the weight of unsustainable increases, the Trump administration policy changes are very welcome.

Cultural challenges aside, the Center has been trying to get an answer for years to a simple question: what does the refugee program cost Minnesota taxpayers?

Did you know that welfare spending in Minnesota is going up about 20 percent or more a year? K-12 budgets are ballooning, as well. All we have is a promise that the Office of Legislative Auditor is going to tell lawmakers in 2018 what costs are currently tracked, so lawmakers can presumably order HHS and other state agencies to begin tracking the costs.

Minnesota has had an open-door and open-wallet policy in support of a federal State Department program—with no accountability to taxpayers or lawmakers for decades.

Our reigning elite, including so-called feminists, have ignored the pleas and shouted down the concerns of Americans who dare to wonder out loud how to deal with incoming cultures that openly reject religious tolerance, profess an allegiance to Sharia law, practice polygamy and mutilate their daughters. These are not the loser racists who show up in ridiculous man-boy outfits to rant and rave at alt-right gatherings. These are good, decent Americans who wonder, “What about my culture? Does that get any respect?”

We can argue cause and effect but in 2016, Americans hired Donald Trump. A man who does not care what Dean Schwartz thinks about anything.

Whether you agree with Trump or not on the refugee issue, or like his style of leadership, understand that he has used his executive power to enforce the law (his primary job), demand that Congress to do its job (make law), successfully fight federal judges attempting to make immigration law instead of following it (defending executive and congressional power against an overreaching judiciary), and making good on the promises he made as a candidate.

That is a pretty good executive.