Trump administration sets lowest cap on refugee admissions in four decades. Again.

President Donald Trump’s administration has once again set the lowest cap on refugee admissions in the program’s almost 40 year history, allowing fewer than 20,000 resettlements.

The administration will only propose resettlements for 18,000 of the 368,000 asylum and refugee applications it expects to field in the upcoming fiscal year, the Department of State said in a press release Thursday. The proposed number is a fraction of the 85,000 cap proposed by former president Barack Obama in 2016.

Trump’s administration said it was focusing on “assisting refugees where they are concentrated” and cited the drain on American resources caused by illegal immigration.

“Indeed, it would be irresponsible for the United States to go abroad seeking large numbers of refugees to resettle when the humanitarian and security crisis along the southern border already imposes an extraordinary burden on the U.S. immigration system,” the State Department said in its release.

Department of Homeland Security acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan also said that the proposed cap for the 2020 fiscal year would allow the department to address “the ongoing crisis at the southern border.”

The Pentagon announced earlier this month it would use $3.6 billion in military construction funding to pay for Trump’s long-promised wall at the southern border. Half of the money that was promised for the wall would come from planned international projects.

Trump’s administration already dramatically cut the refugee cap for the 2019 fiscal year to 30,000, which was the lowest at that point in time.

Humanitarian organizations condemned the decision, saying it was cruel and driven more by ideology than any administrative or policy rationale.

Refugee advocates said the reduction, combined with plans to set aside a certain number of slots for specific nationalities or applicants, meant thousands of people who have already passed security screening and were approved to resettle would be blocked from entering the U.S.

Jewish refugee advocacy group Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society said in a statement that Trump was “playing to fear rather than showing strength.”

“Refugee resettlement assures that at least some of those forced to flee their homes have a safe and legal pathway to refuge in the United States,” HIAS chief executive Mark Hetfield said. “This administration has once again brought our country to a new low, by pledging to resettle fewer refugees than any other administration in history.”

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Doha Madani and Dan De Luce