The Slatest

Trump Administration Slashes Limit on Refugees to Its Lowest Level Ever

President Trump speaks on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Sept. 25, 2019.
President Trump speaks on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Sept. 25, 2019.
SAUL LOEB/Getty Images

Amidst the uproar of presidential impropriety and possible impeachment, the Trump administration quietly ground along with its anti-immigration agenda, announcing Thursday it would cut the number of refugees the U.S. will accept in the coming year to just 18,000. The new cap announced by the State Department is nearly half what it was last year and a far cry from the 110,000 refugees that were accepted during President Barack Obama’s final year in office. The number of refugees the Trump administration will give shelter is so small, in fact, that it amounts to the lowest number allowed in the country since the refugee program began four decades ago.

“Under the plan for fiscal 2020, which begins Oct. 1, the administration would allocate 5,000 refugee slots to people fleeing for religious reasons, 4,000 for Iraqis who assisted the United States and fall under the Refugee Crisis in Iraq Act of 2007, and 1,500 for nationals of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador,” senior administration officials told the Washington Post. “Another 7,500 slots would go to refugees not covered by these categories, including those referred to the program by U.S. embassies.”

The administration says slashing the refugee allocation was necessary to accommodate the influx of asylum seekers, of which there are expected to be 350,000. “The cap is not the only change that could limit refugee entries. The number admitted into the United States will also depend on the jurisdictions that choose to accept them,” according to the New York Times. “President Trump signed an executive order requiring state and local governments to provide written consent to the federal government in order for them to accept refugees.”