Sputnik: How grounded are security concerns behind the move to further decrease the refugee admission cap?
Westy Egmont: Well it certainly unleashed a firestorm among those who care about this issue because this appears to be part of a much larger pattern of anti-immigrant policy led by policy adviser to President Trump — Stephen Miller — it's unprecedented, the low number, you've reported 45,000 as appealing this year, but, in fact, they've only accepted 20,918, which is to say they're making every effort to keep this number as low as possible already.
Sputnik: How has the situation with the migration into the US changed since Donald Trump took over? We know this was one of his policy pledges including building this famous wall between America and Mexico, of course. Has the US migrant policy served as a deterrent to asylum-seekers do believe?
Westy Egmont: Certainly it has not. We're watching unprecedented numbers coming across the southern border this last month in the heat of summer, there's been no obvious effect in Latin America to have people turn away and think that the situation that they're leaving is better than the situation they will face, they still come in hope of freedom and opportunity and that's been used as a justification because part of what the government is saying under Secretary Pompeo that there is a huge backlog now of people who are seeking asylum as opposed to coming as refugees.
Sputnik: As director of the immigrant integration lab there at Boston College maybe you can just provide our listeners with an insight into who it is who generally looks for asylum in the US, what sort of geographical locations, and what their background is, and what're the usual reasons for leaving the country of origin, obviously, other than poverty and no hope of potential personal development and quality of life — are there specific reasons?
Westy Egmont: You know obviously we're in an incredible time in terms of the increase of refugee numbers — 65 million displaced people both internally displaced and externally displaced, relocated. We have incredible pressure on all nations, budding nations get the biggest influx, like Jordan or Lebanon, but on the other side, into the developed world, 1 million went into Europe and those who were pressed to come to the United States are people who are generally, as refugees, they're facing internal conflict in their country where they believe there's no government to protect them, so they have a well grounded fear of persecution based on their race, religion, political affiliation, and what happens in these situation is that they have to apply and this goes on, and on, and on.
The United States is certainly one of the most important countries in this conversation because 50 percent of all of the resettled refugees in the world under the UNHCR, the UN High Commission for Refugees, have come to the United States; so when the United States puts a cold shoulder to the refugee population, it signals [to] the rest of the world that it's okay to do the same thing, to turn attention away from this incredible human drama taking place across the planet.The views and opinions expressed by the contributors do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.