Aug 21, 2018

Refugee admissions for Iraqis who helped U.S. troops drop from 3,000 to 48

Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Cal

This fiscal year, only 48 Iraqis who helped American troops overseas have been granted refugee status — down from more than 3,000 last year and around 5,100 the year before, Reuters' Yeganeh Torbati reports.

Why it matters: This refugee program was specifically designed to encourage locals in Iraq to provide aide and intelligence to the U.S. military or media, and many have risked their lives to do so. Pentagon officials told Reuters they fear cutting the number of approved refugees would lead to a national security risk as locals would have less of an incentive.

Between the lines: The holdup seems to be from the FBI, which conducts special deep background checks on Iraqis who apply for the refugee program. Officials told Reuters that there had been a sharp increase in suspicious information found with these background checks that have led to the drop in Iraqi refugees. There are also new requirements in place for refugees from 10 countries, most of which are majority-Muslim.

The bigger picture: Overall refugee admissions have plunged under Trump. Per Reuters, his administration is "on track to admit about 22,000 refugees this year, approximately half of the maximum allowed" under his new, lower refugee ceiling.

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In photos: India welcomes president with massive "Namaste Trump" rally

First Lady Melania Trump, President Trump and India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi attend the "Namaste Trump" rally at Sardar Patel Stadium in Motera, on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, on Monday. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

India was honoring President Trump and members of the U.S. first family with massive celebrations after they arrived at Sardar Vallabhbhai International Airport in Ahmedabad in the country's northwest Monday for a two-day visit.

Why it matters: The countries are forging deeper ties as India’s location, size and economic growth making it the "obvious counterweight to China" for American policymakers, per Axios' Dave Lawler and Zachary Basu. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is demonstrating the importance of the visit by holding a "Namaste Trump Rally" at a packed 110,000-capacity Sardar Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad — the world's largest cricket venue.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 21 mins ago - World

Concern over coronavirus spread: Italy, South Korea and Iran report more cases

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The number of novel coronavirus cases in South Korea, Italy and Iran jumped on Sunday as infections in mainland China continued to grow, the latest figures show.

The big picture: As South Korea and Italy stepped up emergency measures amid rising case numbers, World Health Organization officials expressed concern about infections with no clear link to China. COVID-19 has killed at least 2,619 people and infected almost 80,000 others, with all but 27 deaths occurring in mainland China.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 4 hours ago - Health

Sanders reveals free childcare plan for preschoolers

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks during a campaign rally on Saturday in El Paso, Texas. Photo: Cengiz Yar/Getty Images

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders announced on CBS' "60 Minutes" Sunday a new plan to guarantee free child care and pre-kindergarten to all American children from infancy to age four.

Details: In the wide-ranging interview, Sanders told Anderson Cooper he planned to pay for universal childcare with a wealth tax. "It's taxes on billionaires," he said.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy