Faith groups decry Trump's plans for record low refugee cap

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FILE - This Feb. 10, 2017, file photo, Abdisellam Hassen Ahmed, a Somali refugee who had been stuck in limbo after President Donald Trump temporarily banned refugee entries, walks with his wife Nimo Hashi, and his 2-year-old daughter, Taslim, who he met for the first time after arriving at Salt Lake City International Airport. President Trump appears to be ignoring a deadline to establish how many refugees will be allowed into the United States in 2021, raising uncertainty about the future of the 40-year-old resettlement program that has been dwindling under the administration. The 1980 Refugee Act requires presidents to issue their determination before Oct. 1, 2020, the start of the fiscal year. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

SAN DIEGO – Refugee advocates, including faith-based groups that President Donald Trump is courting in his re-election bid, called on Congress Thursday to halt his administration’s plans to slash the limit on refugees allowed into the U.S. to a record low, saying it goes against America’s values.

In a notice sent to Congress late Wednesday, just 34 minutes before a statutory deadline to do so, the government unveiled its proposal to allow 15,000 refugees into the country in the fiscal year that started Thursday.

The number is 3,000 fewer than the historically low ceiling of 18,000 that Trump set for the fiscal year that ended Wednesday.

Scott Arbeiter, president of World Relief, a global Christian aid agency, said Trump has reneged on his promise to protect persecuted Christians in the world.

“Instead, we’ve seen the resettlement of refugees from countries known for persecution drop about 90% in some cases over the last four years,” Arbeiter said in a statement. “This is unconscionable.”

The administration's plan was released as Trump vilified refugees as an unwanted burden for the country at a campaign rally in Duluth, Minnesota. He assailed his challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden, who has vowed to raise the ceiling on refugee admissions to 125,000 if elected.

“Biden will turn Minnesota into a refugee camp, and he said that — overwhelming public resources, overcrowding schools and inundating hospitals. You know that. It’s already there. It’s a disgrace what they’ve done to your state,” Trump told supporters.

He then blasted Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar, who arrived to the United States as a Somali refugee and now represents Minneapolis in Congress, saying: “How the hell did Minnesota elect her? What the hell is wrong with you people, right?”