(JTA) — President Donald Trump is “betraying” U.S. commitments to refugees by nearly halving the number the country will allow in this year from 2016, the major Jewish immigrant advocacy group HIAS said.
Trump administration officials said Wednesday that the United States will cap the number of refugees at 45,000 for fiscal year 2018 — the lowest figure since 1980. The fiscal year begins at the end of the month.
The cap for fiscal year 2017 was 54,000, and nearly 85,000 refugees from around the world legally entered the United States in 2016.
In 1980, the year the Refugee Act became law, the United States accepted 200,000 refugees.
Since 1980, the average annual ceiling has been set at 96,229 refugees. Last year the cap was set at 110,000, before the Trump administration attempted to lower it to 50,000 through two executive orders. The orders have been largely blocked by federal courts after being challenged.
HIAS called on Congress to “act urgently to pass legislation that…rejects this shameful approach.”
“President Trump has betrayed America’s history and global leadership in providing safe haven for innocent human beings fleeing violence and persecution,” Mark Hetfield, the president and CEO of HIAS, said in a statement.