The Trump administration is completely reshaping America's refugee program

Refugees.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

In 2017, President Trump aggressively scaled back America's refugee program, capping the number of people fleeing persecution who can enter the U.S. at 45,000 per year, the lowest number in more than three decades. Judging by the first three months of the fiscal year 2018, though, the number of refugees allowed into the U.S. will be well below that cap, The Wall Street Journal reports. So far, only 5,000 refugees have been admitted.

A State Department spokesperson protested drawing conclusions from the number of refugees processed so far, saying refugees are not admitted at a steady pace over the course of the year and that it is too soon to estimate how many will be accepted by the end of 2018. Critics, though, point to the Trump administration's new policies, including heavy restrictions on admissions from 11 countries including Iran, Iraq, and Syria, which together accounted for 40 percent of refugees in the recent years.

"It's enormously discouraging and dispiriting, and it is another reflection of this administration's march away from the principle of humanity," said Eric Schwartz, the former head of the refugee program under President Barack Obama.

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The Trump administration's policies have already resulted in a shifting landscape, with 29 percent of refugee admissions in the 2018 fiscal year coming from Bhutan, a nation of less than a million people. And while in recent years more than 40 percent of all admitted refugees identified as Muslim, just 14 percent did in this fiscal year, which began in October 2017.

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