The United States needs to raise its refugee cap

Admitting more refugees would help the economy and would not increase terrorism


Grace McLeod, JAG copy editor

From building a wall along our southern border to families separated in detention centers, immigration is a very complex issue. As a proud member of the debate team, I have spent the last seven months studying various parts of the United States’ immigration system. After all of my research, I strongly believe that the United States should raise the refugee cap.

Despite the world being in the middle of a refugee crisis, with 25.4 million refugees worldwide according to the United Nations Refugee Agency, President Trump has lowered the refugee cap, the maximum number of refugees admitted into the United States every year, from Obama’s 110,000 to 45,000, and  recently declared the 2019 refugee cap is 30,000, according to the New York Times. This number will only drop in the near future, with Trump’s close adviser, Stephen Miller, advocating for the refugee cap to be set at 25,000.

Many who have spoken out against refugees have claimed that refugees will be a drain on society because they have to rely on government programs like welfare. However, while the majority of refugees initially depend on welfare, the United States resettlement program emphasizes self-sufficiency, and refugees end up being a net-benefit to the government. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the average refugee pays $21,000 more in taxes than they receive in benefits. In addition, according to The Washington Post, the taxes that refugees pay also benefit already-struggling state budgets.

Linking refugees to terrorism is a popular tactic that many who oppose raising the refugee cap use to gain support for their opinion. However, these claims are completely unfounded and simply not true. According to, while there have been almost 1 million refugees admitted into the United States since 2002, there has not been one fatal terrorist attack caused by a refugee. It would be absolutely ridiculous to deny asylum to thousands of people fleeing for their lives because of an unfounded fear that these refugees are terrorists. In fact, leaving thousands of displaced people in refugee camps make them more vulnerable to being recruited into human trafficking rings or even being recruited by terrorist organizations, according to Erol Yayboke, a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Lastly, it is our moral obligation to help these refugees. Many of these refugees are fleeing imminent violence. And on top of that, there are many psychological damages that come with being a refugee. According to Georgetown University, being a refugee is scarring, not only from the obvious dangers, but also due to the constant fear and uncertainty that takes an emotional toll on people. The United States has the capacity to reduce the suffering for thousands of people, and yet we do not do our part.

There is absolutely no reason that the United States shouldn’t raise its cap on refugees. Not only do refugees economically benefit both our state and local governments, it is also our moral obligation to help these people. Refugees are not terrorists, they are people fleeing for their lives and looking for a home. As a nation, we must do everything possible to reduce their pain, and we can do that by raising the cap of refugees.

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