The number of refugees admitted for resettlement in the United States in the next 12 months will be the equivalent of 0.006% of the population, according to new regulations announced by the State Department. The administration says it will admit 18,000 refugees in the next fiscal year, the lowest number since the program began in 1980, the Guardian reports. The cap was 30,000 last year and 110,000 in the final year of the Obama administration. President Trump also issued an executive order Thursday stating that the federal government will seek the approval of state and local governments before resettling refugees, both to "identify the best environments for refugees" and "to be respectful of those communities that may not be able to accommodate refugee resettlement."
The administration says many of the 18,000 slots have already been allocated, with 4,000 to go to Iraqis who worked with the US military and 5,000 for people persecuted for their religion, the New York Times reports. Administration say that with some 350,000 people expected to arrive in the US seeking asylum over the next 12 months, they are "prioritizing the safety and security of the American people by making sure we do not admit more people than we can vet." Humanitarian groups strongly criticized the move. "With one final blow, the Trump administration has snuffed out Lady Liberty’s torch and ended our nation's legacy of compassion and welcome," said the Rev. John L. McCullough, president of the Church World Service resettlement agency. (Read more refugees stories.)