US President Donald Trump has dramatically cut the number of refugees allowed into the United States to 18,000 in the current fiscal year.
The cut in the number of refugee admissions is ‘justified by humanitarian concerns or is otherwise in the national interest,’ a memorandum signed by Trump and distributed by the White House press office late Friday said.
The policy caps the number who can be admitted from Iraq at 4,000 and the number admitted from El Salvador, Guatemala or Honduras at 1,500. The remaining 12,500 are for people who fear persecution for their religious beliefs or political activities or who are referred to the US Refugee Admissions Program.
The number is the lowest level since the introduction of the US refugee programme in 1980. The previous limit for the last fiscal year was 30,000.
In 2016, then-President Barack Obama's last full year in office, about 85,000 refugees were allowed into the US. Trump lowered the limit in 2017, his first in office, and about 53,000 refugees were let in, according to a report issued in March by the Department of Homeland Security.
The US government declared its plan to lower the number in late September, saying the new ceiling will allow the government to focus on addressing issues at the southern border, which has been dubbed a ‘crisis.’
Trump has been criticised by aid organisations and refugee advocacy groups for his hard-line immigration policies, but his supporters tend to favour tightening programmes that allow refugees and other migrants into the country.
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