The President’s Budget Request: Refugee and Asylum Services, Fiscal Year (FY) 2020

The Trump administration released President Trump’s budget request for fiscal year (FY) 2020 on March 11, 2019. This document provides an overview of the Department of State (DOS) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) budget requests for their refugee, asylum and other immigration-related responsibilities, and compares the requests to the amounts enacted by Congress for FY 2019 and the President’s budget request for FY 2019. 

Department of State (DOS)

Migration and Refugee Assistance: $365 million [FY 2019 Enacted Funding: $3.4 billion (89 percent decrease); FY 2019 President’s Budget Request: $2.8 billion (87 percent 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 proposes to move overseas humanitarian assistance, which accounted for about $2.4 billion in enacted funding in FY 2019, 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: $320 million [FY 2018 Enacted Funding (FY 2019 funding not available): $204 million (57 percent increase); FY 2019 President’s Budget Request: $395 million (19 percent 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 2019 Enacted Funding (estimated): $2.4 billion; FY 2019 President’s Budget Request: $0 (no change)]. As mentioned above, the President’s budget proposes to move overseas humanitarian assistance to the new 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 refugees in the U.S. The President’s budget proposes to move these responsibilities to the new IHA account.

International Humanitarian Assistance (IHA): $6 billion [new funding item]. 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.  According to the President’s budget, the new IHA account would be administered by United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and “enable the U.S. government to respond seamlessly to ongoing as well as new humanitarian needs.”

Department of Health and Human Services

Refugee Programs: $1.8 billion [FY 2018 Enacted Funding (FY 2019 funding not available): $2.1 billion (14 percent decrease); FY 2019 President’s Budget Request: $1.9 billion (5 percent decrease)].

  • Unaccompanied Alien Children: $1.3 billion [FY 2018 Enacted Funding: $1.6 billion (19 percent decrease); FY 2019 President’s Budget Request: $1.3 billion (no change)]. This funding item provides for the shelter, care and placement of unaccompanied alien children 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 President’s budget also proposes a separate mandatory contingency fund of up to $2 billion in additional resources over a three-year period to “ensure adequate shelter capacity and care” for migrant children. The President’s budget states that funding needed for this account has exceeded the program’s appropriated funds in five of the last seven fiscal years.
  • Transitional and Medical Services: $319 million [FY 2018 Enacted Funding: $245 million (30 percent increase); FY 2019 President’s Budget Request: $354 million (10 percent 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 2018 Enacted Funding: $202 million (25 percent decrease); FY 2019 President’s Budget Request: $207 million (27 percent decrease)]. 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: $17 million [FY 2018 Enacted Funding: $24 million (29 percent decrease); FY 2019 President’s Budget Request: $27 million (37 percent decrease)]. 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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