Getting Facts Straight on U.S. Refugee and Asylum Policies

Retired U.S. ambassador Nicholas Burns gave a lecture on “Why America Matters” at the School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C., on April 9, in which he traced the rise of the U.S. to a world leadership role after World War II, and what he described as the Trump administration’s dismantling of that role. Unfortunately, his reasoning for his attack on the Trump administration’s policies contained disinformation on current immigration policy developments which marred his message.

Burns said, “…Trump has also reversed the half-century American consensus since the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 that we can afford to accept tens of thousands of legal immigrants and refugees annually.”

Burns based that assertion on the comment by Trump the previous week near the border with Mexico that the U.S. was “full up.” That remark, in context, was clearly aimed at illegal immigration. Conflating legal immigration with illegal immigration is often a hallmark of those who favor open borders.

The fact is that the country is still admitting tens of thousands of refugees despite a major reduction under the current administration. In addition, we are still admitting hundreds of thousands of other immigrants based on our policy adopted in 1965. The administration has proposed changes that would change and rationalize that flow in the national interest, but would still leave the door open to hundreds of thousands of immigrant annually.

About Author


Jack, who joined FAIR’s National Board of Advisors in 2017, is a retired U.S. diplomat with consular experience. He has testified before the U.S. Congress, U.S. Civil Rights Commission, and U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform and has authored studies of immigration issues. His national and international print, TV, and talk radio experience is extensive (including in Spanish).


  1. avatar

    I am sickened by the fact that no one tells the truth
    Democrats and the media say over and over that these illegals( and they can’t even use the legal term which IS ILLEGAL ALIENS) do not qualify for any entitlements!!! That’s s LIE
    The truth is that these illegals have nothing … they get section 8 , FREE healthcare ,FREE SCHOOL-and fed while at school, Food stamps ….WHILE I PAY HIGHER AND REDICULOUS COSTS FOR ALL THESE THINGS!
    Then they send the money they make here, back to the country they came from
    Don’t even get me started on FREE LEGAL REPRESENTATION THAT WE PAY FOR
    OR THE FACT THAT THEY ARENT PROSECUTED !! Just released back out !
    It’s insanity
    And the dems want to know how to fix healthcare
    Stop giving my tax payer money to people that will get entitlements for 50 years!
    I’m so outraged!!
    Wake up AMERICA!!

    And they know

    • avatar

      AMEN.. I am so fed up with these illegal aliens being held above our laws and above the citizens.. we spend WAY over $150 Billion of our tax dollars EVERY year catering to these illegal aliens.. we should NOT be spending ONE dime to take care of any illegal alien… they are NOTHING but a burden to our country and needs to be stopped…
      the Media refuses to report that Trump has NO issues with any LEGAL immigrants coming to the country to live and work… He IS trying to stop the flood of illegal aliens that continue to cross our border to take advantage of our country… we should be STOPPING ALL free handouts to ALL illegal aliens … many would NOT come or stay if they could not get the free handouts from us… They have been told if they cross into our country with a child, claim asylum, they will be allowed to stay.. our laws saddle our country with the burden of these people.. when they cross into this country illegally, THEY SHOULD IMMEDIATELY BE REMOVED AND SENT BACK… the cost of a plane ticket, a bus ticket, or a train ticket would cost us MUCH MUCH less than having to take care of them forever….
      HEAVEN HELP OUR COUNTRY BEFORE WE HAVE NO COUNTRY!!! our politicians have ABSOLUTELY destroyed the value and meaning of being a citizen when they continue to hand these illegal aliens more and more of OUR rights and benefits… illegal aliens should NEVER be placed before the American people… anyone is welcome to come here.. BUT COME LEGALLY!!!
      I’m sick of our tax dollars going to cater to the illegal aliens..

  2. avatar

    While stationed in Italy, where I lived, had a need for a plumber. We were able to communicate a litte. Here this individual that was a master plumber, whose fondest dream was to immigrate to America, and he was unable to. In this case, , an asset was lost
    and instead we are overrun with worthless, unskilled, uneducated worthless dregs of humanity, and it is what the Democrats love.

  3. avatar
    George R. Fuller on

    From the 1920s until Kennedy got the 1965 immigration bill passed the quota was 50,000 immigrants a year admitted who had a skill. We should return to that quota.

    Go to your local Walmart if you want to learn a new language… is crawling with non-English speakers…how many are legal I wonder?

  4. avatar

    Burns of course is outright lying to even use the words “afford to accept tens of thousands of legal immigrants and refugees annually”. He knows it is infinitely higher than that. Just more propaganda to try and convince the people who don’t know the true figures that we have no problem with the numbers admitted. It’s hardly the handful he claims. If you read his whole lecture he’s also a total globalist who thinks it’s our burden to make the world safe and secure. That attitude, backed by guys like McCain and others, has led us into fiasco after fiasco.