President Trump’s changes to immigration policies has cut in half the number of refugee resettlements expected in Maine this year, according to Catholic Charities of Maine.

The organization said it had planned to resettle 685 refugees in fiscal year 2017, which ends in September. But earlier this year, the president reduced the annual cap on the number of refugees allowed in the United States from 110,000 to 50,000.

As a result, Catholic Charities said only about 300 refugees have arrived in Maine since the fiscal year started in October. Roughly 50 more people are expected in the next two months.

“It would be a direct consequence of the change in policy at the federal level,” said Judy Katzel, spokeswoman for Catholic Charities of Maine.

Trump lowered the cap in January in an executive order, which also sought to temporarily ban the entry of citizens from seven majority-Muslim countries and suspend the entire refugee resettlement program for 120 days. Multiple versions of that order have been blocked by federal courts, and the Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case this fall. In the meantime, the justices ruled a scaled-back version could take effect, which allowed the 50,000-person cap to stand.

The Washington Post reported the country surpassed that limit earlier this month, though the Supreme Court’s order will still allow some refugees with family ties to be resettled in the United States.


“Just by virtue of cutting the overall number in half, most resettlement agencies are going to see a lower number,” Katzel said.

The organization is on track to see its lowest annual number of resettlements in five years. Last year, Catholic Charities resettled 642 refugees in Maine; the year before, 425. Traditionally, refugees come to Maine from countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia.

As a result, some staff members at Catholic Charities have been shifted to other programs inside the organization.

“We have already made staffing decisions based around the lower number,” Katzel said. “For us in Maine, we were probably luckier than most, because Catholic Charities has other programs that serve the refugee community, like our language partners program.”

It is still unclear where the president might set the cap for fiscal year 2018.

“I don’t think we really know until we get some additional information at the federal level,” Katzel said. “There’s really no way to tell.”

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