Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration Expresses Dismay with the Administration’s New Refugee Ceiling, Urges Consultation with Congress and Increase in Cap to at least 75,000

Washington, D.C.—​ This week the Administration announced that the new FY2019 refugee ceiling will be set at 30,000. This is the lowest cap since the inception of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program in 1980, and woefully inadequate to meet the urgent needs of the global refugee crisis. At a time when there are nearly seventy million displaced people in the world, many of them women, children and families who have been displaced for years with no hope of returning to their countries of origin, the U.S. should be leading by example in alleviating human suffering. Yet in FY2018, the Administration dramatically lowered the cap to 45,000 in refugee admissions, and has not even resettled half that number at this point. These actions contrast starkly with the past, where on average, Administrations set the cap for refugee admissions at over 80,000, and increased the number in times of significant global need.


“The United States has historically led in providing for permanent refugee resettlement,” said Nancy Cantor, Co-Chair of the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, and Chancellor of Rutgers University-Newark, “we deplore the closing of our nation’s doors and extinguishing of hope for many refugees, including scholars, students, and their families, who are fleeing violence and seeking safety.” David Oxtoby, Co-Chair, Presidents’ Alliance and President Emeritus of Pomona College, added, “as leaders of higher education institutions from across the country, we can affirm that our campuses and communities have greatly benefited from the contributions of refugee scholars and scientists, innovators and entrepreneurs, hard-working students and active community members.”


The Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration urges the Administration to reconsider its decision and engage in a meaningful consultation with Congress as required by law. It recommends to the Administration and Congress that the cap be increased to at least 75,000 refugees.


The non-partisan Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration​ brings together college and university leaders dedicated to increasing public understanding of how immigration policies and practices impact our students, campuses and communities, and supporting policies that create a welcoming environment for undocumented, immigrant, and international students. The Alliance is comprised of over 420 presidents and chancellors of public and private colleges and universities, representing over four million students in 41 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico.