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As Trump Limits Refugees To Come To U.S., Local Resettlement Organizations See Challenges Ahead

Refugees give their Oath of Allegiance to the U.S. Saturday in downtown Boise during 2017 World Refugee Day.

The Trump administration has announced new limits for refugees coming to the U.S. Next year, 18,000 refugees will be admitted to the United States. It’s the fewest that will be able to come since the current refugee program began in 1980.

The new limits outline quotas for people fleeing religious persecution and people from Iraq, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. And there are some remaining spots for unspecified groups.

"With a few total slots altogether, it’s going to be a very limited number of people who make it at all," said Julianne Donnelly Tzul, the Executive Director of the International Rescue Committee in Boise.

Because of restrictions for people coming from Muslim-majority countries, 70% of refugees who arrived in Idaho in the last year are from the Democratic Republic of Congo. And more than half of people resettled by IRC in the past year were reuniting with a family member already living here. 

Donnelly Tzul says the three refugee resettlement organizations in the state — two in Boise and one in Twin Falls — will likely face challenges going forward because they rely on federal funding tied to the number of people they serve.

In addition to setting new limits, President Trump signed an executive order giving local and state governments the option not to resettle refugees at all.

Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen  

Copyright 2019 Boise State Public Radio

As the south-central Idaho reporter, I cover the Magic and Wood River valleys. I also enjoy writing about issues related to health and the environment.