The U.S. accepted zero refugees in October. That’s after the Trump administration has set a year-long cap on refugees at 18,000, the lowest number since the modern refugee program began with the Refugee Act of 1980.
Meanwhile, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert is appealing to the Trump administration to allow more refugees into his state. He wrote his appeal in a letter dated Oct. 24 in response to President Donald Trump’s executive order giving cities and states more authority over incoming refugees.
“Our state was founded by religious refugees fleeing persecution in the Eastern United States,” Herbert wrote. “As a result we empathize deeply with individuals and groups who have been forced from their homes and we love giving them a new home and a new life.”
In late September, Trump signed an executive order that gives states and cities more authority to accept or reject refugees for resettlement. Herbert said he wrote his letter in direct response to that order, saying he would like to see his own state’s refugee numbers go up.
Utah reports accepting 1,555 refugees in fiscal year 2016. By 2018, it was down to 539.
“We know the need has not decreased and are eager to see the number of admittances rise again,” Herbert wrote.
Tara Wolfson would also like to see more refugees accepted into the Mountain West. She directs of the Idaho Office for Refugees, and said refugees have been resettled in Idaho since 1975.
“And they’re really part of our communities and they power our economy, so when people don’t come, I think not only do businesses feel that, but also, you have to remember that we’re talking about people’s family members,” she said.
The global refugee crisis continues to mount with numbers of refugees reaching levels not seen since World War II.
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City, KUNR in Nevada, and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.