Trump administration proposes historically low refugee limit

New limit would cap refugees at 18,000, down from 30,000

A sign welcomes people to the U.S. from Mexico on June 25, 2018 in Brownsville, Texas.
A sign welcomes people to the U.S. from Mexico on June 25, 2018 in Brownsville, Texas.

The Trump administration wants to cap the number of refugees admitted into the United States to the lowest number since the resettlement program was created in 1980.

A State Department proposal released Thursday would put a cap on the number of refugees at 18,000 for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1.

Last year, the administration placed the cap at a record low of 30,000. The limit has drawn protests from human rights groups, as well as government officials.

The president's final decision on the cap must include consultation with Congress, which could push for a higher total.

The White House issued a separate order Thursday that requires added consultation with states and localities about settlement of refugees in specific areas.

"Close cooperation with State and local governments ensures that refugees are resettled in communities that are eager and equipped to support their successful integration into American society and the labor force," according to the executive order from the White House.

Under the executive order, if a state or local government that does not provide consent for refugees under the resettlement program refugees won't be relocated there. However, if the secretary of state concludes "that failing to resettle refugees within that State or locality would be inconsistent with the policies and strategies established under the ( resettlement law) ... then the Secretary shall notify the President of such decision, along with the reasons for the decision, before proceeding."