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US Refugee Arrivals Postponed Another Week

FILE - Faith leaders and members of human rights groups wearing life vests are arrested during a protest against cuts to the U.S. refugee resettlement program, at the steps of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Oct. 15, 2019.

The U.S. has postponed a resumption of refugee arrivals by at least another week, a State Department spokesperson confirmed to VOA on Tuesday, as the Trump administration pushes for further reductions in the number of refugees America takes in each year.

The postponement follows last month's announcement that a pause in refugee arrivals would be in effect until Oct. 22 while the White House and Congress engaged in legally required discussions to determine how many refugees will be admitted for the 2020 fiscal year, which began Oct. 1.

The State Department now says refugee arrivals likely will resume next week "on or after October 29."

Refugees who had been expected to travel to the U.S. in the interim will be rescheduled, according to an agency statement.

The U.S. reached its self-imposed cap of 30,000 refugee arrivals in FY2019, one of the lowest admissions levels since the program started in 1980. For FY2020, U.S President Donald Trump and the State Department have proposed a cap of 18,000 refugees.

While the president issues the "determination" that sets the upper limit of how many refugees will be admitted in a year, that ceiling requires consultations with Capitol Hill lawmakers. A determination has not yet been announced, and no refugees have arrived in the new fiscal year to date.

For decades, the United States had been a global leader in third-country resettlement. The administration's proposed refugee cap would be the lowest in the program's history and would restructure the categories under which refugees would be admitted, including people fleeing religious persecution.