WASHINGTON — The Trump administration announced Monday that it would limit the number of refugees admitted into the United States in the next fiscal year to 30,000, the lowest number in more than 38 years.
For this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, the Trump administration's cap was 45,000 — the lowest number set since the State Department data began keeping refugee data back to 1980. Even then, the U.S. did not meet the ceiling this year and only admitted about 21,000.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made the announcement publicly, adding that this year the U.S. will also be inundated with more than 280,000 asylum seekers, who are immigrants who come to the U.S. to claim protection rather than applying for resettlement from abroad.
The refugee limit had been a source of debate between Trump-appointed officials at the White House and the Department of Homeland Security versus non-political officials at the State Department who have argued the number should be higher in order to promote diplomacy.
Two administration officials told NBC News stricter vetting procedures have limited the number of refugees that can feasibly enter the country in a year and even the 30,000 number may not be reached, just as the limit wasn't reached this year.
Refugee advocates say the number is a reflection of the fact that the Trump administration wants to limit overall immigration and is not tied to national security.