The President’s Budget Request for Refugee and Asylum Services: Fiscal Year (FY) 2021

The Trump administration released President Trump’s budget request for fiscal year (FY) 2021 on February 10, 2020. This document provides an overview of President Trump’s budget request for the Department of State (DOS) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for their refugee, asylum and other immigration-related responsibilities, and compares them to the amounts enacted by Congress for FY 2020 and the President’s budget request for FY 2020. 

Department of State (DOS)

Migration and Refugee Assistance: $299 million [FY 2020 Enacted Funding: $1.9 billion (84% decrease); FY 2020 President’s Budget Request: $365 million (18% decrease)]. The Migration and Refugee Assistance (MRA) account historically provides funding for the protection and assistance of refugees, conflict victims, stateless persons, and vulnerable migrants worldwide. The President’s budget continues to move overseas humanitarian assistance to the new International Humanitarian Assistance (IHA) account. The MRA request includes funding for the U.S. Refugee Admissions program, Humanitarian Migrants to Israel (HMI) and the administrative expenses of the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM).

  • U.S. Refugee Admissions Program: $254 million [FY 2020 Enacted Funding: not available; FY 2020 President’s Budget Request: $320 million (21% decrease)]. This item provides funding to enable international and non-governmental organizations to help refugees and certain other categories of immigrants resettle in communities across the U.S.
  • Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO): $0 [FY 2020 Enacted Funding: $1.5 billion (item eliminated); FY 2020 President’s Budget Request: $0 (no change)]. The president’s budget request proposes to move overseas humanitarian assistance to the new International Humanitarian Assistance (IHA) account. The OCO account provides overseas humanitarian assistance to support vulnerable populations and achieve durable solutions for those displaced by conflict while providing support to the communities that host them. It also funds contributions to multilateral organizations, including UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which address humanitarian needs overseas and resettle refugee in the U.S. The president’s budget proposes to move these responsibilities to the new IHA account.

International Humanitarian Assistance (IHA): $6 billion [FY 2020 Enacted Funding: $0 (new funding item); FY 2020 President’s Budget Request: $6 billion (no change)].  The new IHA account would provide funding in response to “complex emergencies and natural disasters around the World.” Funds in IHA would support overseas humanitarian assistance, as well as programs of international organizations, including UNHCR, ICRC and IOM. The new IHA account would be administered by United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and in part “enable the U.S. government to respond seamlessly to ongoing as well as new humanitarian needs of the most vulnerable displaced people, including refugees, conflict victims, stateless persons, and migrants worldwide.”

Department of Health and Human Services

Refugee Programs: $2.5 billion [FY 2020 Enacted Funding $1.9 billion (32% increase); FY 2019 President’s Budget Request: $1.8 billion (39% increase)].

  • Unaccompanied Alien Children: $2 billion [FY 2020 Enacted Funding $1.3 billion (54% increase); FY 2020 President’s Budget Request: $1.3 billion (54% increase)]. This funding item provides for the shelter, care and placement of unaccompanied alien children (UACs) who are referred to the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) after being apprehended at a border, port of entry or in the interior of the U.S. The item supports a capacity of 16,000 licensed permanent beds for UACs.
  • Transitional and Medical Services: $279 million [FY 2020 Enacted Funding: $354 million (21% decrease); FY 2020 President’s Budget Request: $319 million (13% decrease)]. This item assists refugees and other eligible new arrivals to “become self-supporting and assimilate to life in the United States” by providing up to eight months of financial support and medical assistance.
  • Refugee Supportive Services: $151 million [FY 2020 Enacted Funding: $207 million (27% decrease); FY 2020 President’s Budget Request: $151 million (no change)]. This item funds, in part, services by state governments and nonprofit organizations assisting refugees and other eligible new arrivals with employment training services.
  • Victims of Trafficking (Foreign and Domestic): $28 million [FY 2020 Enacted Funding: $28 million (no change); FY 2020 President’s Budget Request: $17 million (65% increase)]. This item includes funding for grant programs, contracts and partnerships to screen and identify victims of trafficking and to provide the victims with services.

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