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US Restarts Refugee Program

FILE - An activist holds up a pro-refugee image during a demonstration outside of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Oct. 15, 2019.

The United States is taking in refugees once again, ending a pause in arrivals that lasted more than a month.

The State Department reports 199 people from 13 countries traveled to the U.S. on Tuesday.

"Refugee arrivals resumed Nov. 5. These travelers were in 'Ready for Travel' status as of Sept. 30 and are mentioned explicitly in the Presidential Determination," a State Department spokesperson said in an email to VOA.

Some of the refugees had been scheduled to arrive in October, but were delayed while Washington ironed out a cap for refugee admittances for the 2020 fiscal year, which began Oct. 1.

At the end of September, the Trump administration proposed a ceiling of 18,000 refugees — the lowest in the program's history. Last Friday, after consultations with Congress, the White House confirmed the cap in a presidential determination.

FILE - Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during an event in in New York, Oct. 30, 2019.

"America's support for refugees and other displaced people extends well beyond our immigration system," U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said after the announcement. "Addressing the core problems that drive refugees away from their homes helps more people more rapidly than resettling them in the United States."

But some U.S. lawmakers say the Trump administration ignored bipartisan input from Congress.

"During the consultation process with Secretary Pompeo, which occurred more than two weeks after the deadline set by law, there was bipartisan agreement in favor of increasing the proposed admission level. ... Unfortunately, the Administration appears to have ignored this bipartisan agreement," House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerrold Nadler and Immigration and Citizenship Subcommittee chairwoman Zoe Lofgren said in a statement.

The 199 refugees received Tuesday could be the high mark for daily arrivals in the coming months.

The 18,000 refugee cap works out to an average of 55 per day if the cap is met.

Once the world's largest country for refugee resettlement, the U.S. fell below Canada in 2018.

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