Jun 2, 2019

Kushner: "Doesn’t make a difference" how many refugees U.S. accepts

Jared Kushner. Photo: Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, the grandson of refugees who fled to America to escape the Holocaust, defended President Trump's decision to slash the number of refugees allowed into the U.S. in an interview with "Axios on HBO."

Driving the news: Kushner told Axios that his family's experience — from "the precipice of life and death" to the West Wing in just two generations — is a reminder of "how great this country is." But "you can’t have all of them come into your country," Kushner said of the 68.5 million refugees in the world.

When asked whether he supported Trump's move to limit refugee admissions to the lowest level in 40 years, Kushner said the number "doesn’t make a difference one way or the another."

  • "I think the amount of money you can spend to help refugees to resettle in their countries and deal with aid is very impactful," he said.

Reality check: The Trump administration has cut or threatened to cut funding for refugee programs, as well as aid to the nations those refugees are fleeing.

By the numbers: Since taking office, Trump has lowered the cap on refugee resettlements to the U.S. from 110,000 to a record low of 30,000. The U.S. is projected to fall short of that ceiling for the second year in a row, according to an analysis by World Relief, a humanitarian organization that resettles and cares for refugees.

  • Meanwhile, there are more forcibly displaced people in the world than at any point since World War II, according to the UN.

Details: Trump's 2020 budget request proposed a 23% cut to international programs and the State Department — the second-highest cut to any agency.

At Trump's request, the State Department said it will cut off aid to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, where gang violence, high murder rates, poverty and political unrest have prompted hundreds of thousands of people to flee for the U.S.

  • Many of those people are seeking asylum, and that's a separate process from the refugee resettlement program.
  • Both asylum-seekers and refugees, however, have fled persecution and danger in their home countries and have sought sanctuary in the U.S.

The other side: Proponents of dropping the refugee cap have pointed to the asylum system as another way the U.S. cares for refugees.

  • An average of 23,800 people have been granted asylum every year over the past decade, according to DHS data.
  • But the administration has tried to curtail the asylum system as well.
  • The U.S. still resettles more refugees than any other wealthy nation, although Canada and Australia now resettle more refugees per capita than the U.S., according to World Relief's Jenny Yang.

"We’re doing our best ... to make sure that you're funding these situations so that the people who are immediately becoming refugees can have as much care as possible," Kushner said.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Axios Visuals

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 8 a.m. ET: 1,131,713 — Total deaths: 59,884 — Total recoveries: 233,591Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 8 a.m. ET: 278,458 — Total deaths: 7,159 — Total recoveries: 9,897Map.
  3. Public health latest: The CDC is recommending Americans wear face coverings in public to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. The federal government will cover the costs of COVID-19 treatment for the uninsured, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said.
  4. 2020 latest: "I think a lot of people cheat with mail-in voting," President Trump said of the 2020 election, as more states hold primaries by mail. Montana Gov. Steve Bullock said Friday that every county in the state opted to expand mail-in voting for the state's June 2 primary.
  5. Business updates: America's small business bailout is off to a bad start. The DOT is urging airlines to refund passengers due to canceled or rescheduled flights, but won't take action against airlines that provide vouchers or credits.
  6. Oil latest: The amount of gas American drivers are consuming dropped to levels not seen in more than 25 years, government data shows. Trump is calling on the Energy Department to find more places to store oil.
  7. Tech updates: Twitter will allow ads containing references to the coronavirus under certain use cases.
  8. U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt: Senators call for independent investigation into firing of Navy captain.
  9. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  10. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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The renaissance of the American family

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

It used to be scarce and hard-earned, but suddenly family time is abundant in the era of shelter-in-place.

Why it matters: For the first time since the early 19th century, many parents and kids — and even grandchildren — are all under the same roof round-the-clock. And if past periods of emergency are any guide, this enforced togetherness could deepen our relationships for years to come.

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Biden says he's starting VP search this month

Joe Biden. Photo: Scott Olson / Staff

Joe Biden said he's spoken to Sen. Bernie Sanders and former President Barack Obama about selecting a running mate — and that he wants to build "a bench of younger, really qualified people" who can lead the nation over the course of the next four presidential cycles.

Driving the news: Biden spoke about the state of the 2020 race during a virtual fundraiser on Friday night that was opened to pooled coverage.