Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the United States will cap the number of refugees allowed into the country at 30,000 for 2019. This represents a one-third cut from the 45,000 granted entry in 2018. 280,000 asylum seekers will be processed as well, and they will join the 800,000 asylum seekers already in the country.
Pompeo said the new refugee policy will focus on addressing the humanitarian protection of those already in the country. He cited an "urgent need to restore integrity to our overwhelmed asylum system," and prioritize the safety and security of American citizens:
The United States anticipates processing up to 310,000 refugees and asylum seekers in fiscal year 2019. We propose resettling up to 30,000 refugees under the new refugee ceiling, as well as processing more than 280,000 asylum seekers. They will join the over 800,000 asylum seekers who are already inside the United States and who are awaiting adjudication of their claims.
The United States longstanding record as the most generous nation in the world when it comes to protection-based immigration and assistance. Since 2010, over 1.5 million people have been admitted as refugees or granted asylum in the United States. Hundreds of thousands of others who have received temporary and permanent protection under other immigration categories.
The total humanitarian assistance of the United States was more than $8 Billion worldwide in FY2017--more than any other country.
Some will characterize the refugee ceiling as the sole barometer of the United States' commitment to vulnerable people around the world. This would be wrong.
In consideration of both U.S. national security interests and the urgent need to restore integrity to our overwhelmed asylum system, the United States will focus on addressing the humanitarian protection cases of those already in the country.
This year's refugee ceiling also reflects our commitment to protect the most vulnerable around the world while prioritizing the safety and well-being of the American people, as President Trump has directed.
We must responsibly vet the applications to prevent the entry of those who might do harm to our country. Already this year, we have sen evidence that the system previously in place was defective. It allowed a foreign national to slip through who was later discovered to be a member of ISIS, as well as other individuals with criminal backgrounds.
The American people must have complete confidence that everyone granted resettlement in our country is thoroughly vetted.
The improved refugee policy serves the national interests of the United States and expands our ability to help those in need all around the world.