Refugees

As president, Donald Trump slashed refugee admissions to the United States to a record low. Paradoxically, his administration also took major steps to highlight the persecution of religious minorities around the world, a key driver of global refugee movements.

President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to reassert America's commitment to refugees after the Trump White House's slashing of the resettlement program, part of the current president's anti-immigration drive.

In 2016, President Barack Obama aimed to admit 110,000 refugees. President Trump lowered the cap on refugee admissions every year of his presidency. For fiscal year 2021, he set the cap at 15,000, the lowest on record.

Semere Tesfatsion has been waiting for years to be reuinited with his wife Helen and daughters Yosan and Sara who are still in Sudan.
Courtesy of Semere Tesfatsion

Refugee resettlement has fallen to historic lows in the United States. The country has gone from sheltering 95,000 people fleeing persecution or war each year, to just 15,000 under the Trump administration. Advocates and refugees are hoping voters consider the issue when going to the polls.

Updated at 6:47 p.m. ET

President Trump said he plans to "temporarily suspend immigration into the United States," in an attempt to protect American workers from the coronavirus' economic toll.

Trump first announced his proposal in a late-night tweet Monday, then added details at the White House coronavirus task force briefing on Tuesday.

What will happen when COVID-19 hits refugee camps?

Updated at 9:57 p.m. ET

President Trump plans to seal off the U.S-Mexico border to migrants under a law intended to protect the country from communicable disease — a move that comes as the U.S. immigration system grinds to a halt in response to the growing coronavirus pandemic.

At a press conference Wednesday, Trump said the southern border would not close completely. But the move would allow the administration to quickly deport asylum-seekers and other migrants who cross the U.S.-Mexico border illegally without due process.

Efforts by the Trump administration to increase deportations to Laos have galvanized the Hmong community in the U.S., and some leaders are speaking out in ways they haven't before.

The Hmong, a Southeast Asian ethnic group, fought as U.S. allies in the Vietnam War. After the war, tens of thousands of them were forced to flee Laos and a crackdown from its Communist government. They came to the U.S. as refugees beginning in the 1970s.

Now the Trump administration is negotiating with Laos to deport thousands of Hmong who have broken the law here.

Houleye Thiam, a Mauritanian immigrant, is working to educate Columbus' African community about the 2020 Census.
Gabe Rosenberg / WOSU

Efforts are underway in Ohio for the 2020 Census, the U.S. government's once-a-decade effort to count every resident in the country. Mailers will begin showing up on doorsteps as early as next month, with a national Census Day planned for April 1.

photo of Ahmed Abukar and Sahra Abdullahi
StoryCorps COLUMBUS / WOSU

Sahra Abdullahi and Ahmed Abukar were born in Somalia and moved to the United States when they were young. Both had a hard time fitting in and navigating American culture.

But while Abukar came with his parents, Abdullahi moved with her aunt, leaving behind her parents and six of her seven siblings. She faced many hardships in her new home and eventually in foster care.

Rep. Troy Balderson (R-Ohio) is up for re-election this year, as is President Trump, who helped campaign for him in 2018.
Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press

In this week's episode of Snollygoster, Ohio's politics podcast from WOSU, hosts Mike Thompson and Steve Brown discuss the upcoming primary elections, the continuing battle over Ohio's nuclear plant bailout, and the other political stories coming down the pike this year.

President Donald Trump stands with gubernatorial candidate Mike DeWine as he speaks during a rally, at the IX Center, in Cleveland, Monday, Nov. 5, 2018.
Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press

Ohio is ready and willing to accept more refugees, Gov. Mike DeWine told the Trump administration.

Jhuma Natha Achayra
storycorps / WOSU

Jhuma Nath Achayra had never heard the word “refugee” until he and his family were forced from their homeland in Bhutan. They found themselves part of the Bhutanese refugee crisis, during which over 100,000 people were expelled from the country in the early '90s. 

As part of StoryCorps COLUMBUS, Achayra recalled his journey from Bhutan to the United States—what it meant to lose one home, and gain a second chance to find another.

A Trump administration plan to give state and local authorities the power to reject refugees from being resettled in their communities is headed for court.

Three organizations that help refugees find places to live when they first arrive in the United States filed a lawsuit Thursday challenging the executive order on refugee resettlement that President Trump issued in September.

Updated 8:38 p.m. ET

President Trump has ordered that the number of refugees allowed to resettle in the U.S. in the coming year be cut nearly in half to 18,000, down from the administration's previous refugee ceiling of 30,000.

The limit represents the lowest number of refugees seeking protection from violence or political persecution allowed into the country since the modern refugee program was established in 1980.

At a rally Tuesday at US Together, Julie Momoh tells her story about being a refugee.
Paige Pfleger / WOSU

Immigration organizers in Columbus are criticizing the Trump administration’s proposed cap on refugee resettlement.

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