Trump slashes number of refugees allowed in U.S.

Catherine Garcia

President Trump has cut the number of refugees accepted into the United States, with the State Department announcing Thursday only 18,000 will be welcomed over the next 12 months, down from the current limit of 30,000.

In 2016, during former President Barack Obama's last year in office, 110,000 refugees were allowed into the U.S. The State Department said many of the limited number of slots will be set aside for Iraqis who have worked with the U.S. military, persecuted people from Central America, and religious minorities. It will now be harder for people fleeing war to find a safe haven in the United States.

There is a backlog of nearly one million cases in the immigration courts, and the State Department said the "current burdens on the U.S. immigration system must be alleviated before it is again possible to resettle large numbers of refugees. Prioritizing the humanitarian protection cases of those already in our country is simply a matter of fairness and common sense." Critics argue that refugees are vetted before they arrive in the United States, and asylum seekers take longer to go through the courts because they are evaluated once inside the U.S.