The United States resettled a paltry number of refugees in the 2018 fiscal year after President Donald Trump slashed the quota to a record low.
Just 22,491 refugees were admitted into the U.S. in the 12 months prior to Sept. 30, when the fiscal year ended. The only time in the U.S. resettlement program’s history that the country has taken fewer refugees was in 1977, according to State Department data.
The new resettlement figures show the U.S. took fewer than half of the 53,716 people who were resettled in fiscal 2017, and about one-quarter of the 84,994 who arrived the year before. The United Nations estimates that about 25.4 million people worldwide are refugees.
Trump lowered the refugee cap to 45,000 for fiscal 2018, the lowest on record, and cut it to 30,000 for the coming year. Former President Barack Obama set caps at 75,000 for fiscal 2016, and 110,000 for the year after that.
The new number “was consistent with operational capacity to implement new screening and vetting procedures” required by Trump’s revised travel ban, the State Department said in a statement.
The administration has imposed numerous executive orders limiting immigrants and refugees, mainly from Muslim-majority countries. The edicts were repeatedly struck down in courts until the Supreme Court ruled in September 2017 that an order signed earlier that year could go into partial effect. The ruling suspended the refugee admissions program for 120 days for a government review, and barred people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen from entering the U.S. for 90 days.
Days later, Trump signed another ban into law, permanently suspending entry of non-visa holders from a slightly revised list of countries. The ban was upheld by the high court in June.
The lowered refugee caps are a response to the additional vetting procedures put in place thanks to the travel ban, “which are now enabling the U.S. government to even more thoroughly review refugee applicants to identify potential threats to public safety and national security,” a State Department spokesperson told reporters.