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McMorris Rodgers Asks Trump Administration To Raise Cap On Refugees

Restricting immigration has been one of Donald Trump’s signature goals as president. But last week, Washington Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers joined 16 other Republican lawmakers in signing a letter urging the Trump administration to increase its proposed cap of 18,000 refugees in 2020.

The letter, addressed to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and dated October 18, reads in part, “As the world continues to face an overwhelming refugee crisis, we respectfully urge you to uphold our nation’s commitment to assist individuals who have been displaced by violence and strife.”


“It’s really encouraging to see our representative listening to their constituents and being willing to do something that frankly takes a little bit of political courage to do in this environment," says Mark Finney, director of World Relief Spokane, a refugee resettlement agency. 

In fact, Congress has already approved funding to accept more refugees. In a statement, McMorris Rodgers spokesman Jared Powell says, “Cathy has long supported the historic refugee cap of 75,000 per year. This is the cap that Congress has approved and that she has voted in favor of.”

The refugee cap has been reduced each year since Trump took office, from between 70,000 and 80,000 in the Bush and Obama administrations to its now historic lows. In its September 26 announcement of the 2020 cap, the White House cited the high number of asylum seekers on the southern U.S. border and the backlog in immigration courts as reasons for the reduction. 

But Mark Finney takes issue with that rationale.


“I mean, it definitely is a crisis. But the folks who are both securing the border, as well as those who process asylum claims, are a completely different branch of the government from those who do the overseas processing work with refugees. Claiming the need for more resources in one area does not equate to decimating the resources in another area.”

Chris Maccini previously worked at SPR as Morning Edition host and producing arts and special programming such as The Bookshelf, Poetry Moment, Northwest Arts Review, special features and more.