The number of refugees admitted into the United States may soon dramatically rise due to a State Department decision to lift restrictions recently placed on refugee entry to the U.S, subtly announced in an email this week, the New York Times reported.
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Both the restrictions that were in place and the State Department's decision to lift them apparently had no connection to U.S. President Donald Trump's repeated attempts to limit the number of refugees allowed in the U.S. or a federal appeals court's upheld ruling rejecting Trump's travel ban from six mostly Muslim countries.
Instead, the lifting of restrictions, which the Times reported could nearly double the entry of refugees into the country in comparison to recent weeks, was seemingly the result of budgetary issues.
According to the report, the restrictions were put in place by a temporary spending measure passed by Congress last fall. The measure was replaced this month however, by a bill that funds the government for the whole of the fiscal year and contained no mentions of refugee quotas or any other forms of limitations.
The New York Times cited an anonymous State Department spokeswoman as saying the Department of Justice had been consulted prior to the decision to lift the restraints.
"This is long overdue, but we're very happy," said Mark Hetfield, president of HIAS, an advocate organization for immigrants and refugees and apparently one of those who received the State Department announcement by email on Thursday.
Estimates suggest that refugee immigration could now skyrocket to about 1,500 people per week, compared to the 830 allowed in under the budgetary restrictions.
Refugee immigration to the U.S. has fallen drastically in recent months, but with the lifting of restrictions, 2017's figures are expected to reach or exceed 70,000, well over the 50,000 yearly limit sought by President Trump.