September 29, 2017 / 9:37 PM / a year ago

U.S. will admit up to 45,000 refugees next year - Trump

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States will admit a maximum of 45,000 refugees during the 2018 fiscal year, President Donald Trump said in a memorandum to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and released by the White House on Friday.

U.S. President Donald Trump walks from the Oval Office as he departs for Bedminster, New Jersey, from the White House in Washington, U.S., September 29, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

The cap, the lowest in decades, was proposed by the administration in a report to Congress on Wednesday.

Refugee advocates say the lower limit ignores growing humanitarian crises around the world that are causing people to flee their native countries in greater numbers, and represents a departure from U.S. global leadership.

FILE PHOTO: Retired engineer John Wider, 59, holds up a sign reading "Welcome Refugees" as international travelers arrive at Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, California, U.S., June 29, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake

The Trump administration says the lower cap is necessary so that U.S. officials can address a growing backlog of people applying for asylum inside the United States, and to do better vetting of refugees.

In its report to Congress, which was reviewed by Reuters, the administration said it may assess refugees on their "likelihood of successful assimilation and contribution to the United States." (

An assimilation standard for refugees would be a departure from recent practise but on its face is not inappropriate, said Joseph Cassidy, a fellow at the Wilson Center and former State Department official.

“The particular concern is that assessments could be made, not on the basis of individual cases, but might be biased against certain religions or nationalities,” Cassidy said.

For the Trump administration report to Congress on 2018 refugee admissions, click: here

Reporting by Yeganeh Torbati; Editing by James Dalgleish

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