"Since 2000, over one and a half million people have been admitted as refugees or granted asylum in the United States of America".
For more on the impacts see here. Once the USA responded to those attacks by launching a war in Afghanistan and invading Iraq, the number of refugees from the Middle East increased dramatically.
Worldwide, there were some 25.4 million refugees past year, according to the US High Commissioner for Refugees, with many more people internally displaced within their home countries.
He claimed: "These expansive figures continue the United States' longstanding record as the most generous nation in the world when it comes to protection-based immigration". The administration's departure from history sets a unsafe precedent at a time of great global crisis.
It compares with a 45,000-refugee limit set by President Donald Trump for 2018 and 50,000 the year before.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday the number of refugees allowed into the US would be capped at 30,000 for fiscal year 2019, a sharp drop from a limit of 45,000 set for 2018.
Pompeo added that the US also has "a massive backlog" of asylum seekers already in the country.
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Eric Schwartz, president of Refugees International, called the cap announced by Pompeo "appalling".
The 30,000 cap is the maximum number of refugees the USA will admit during the fiscal year that starts October 1. Most aid groups and governments advocate resettlement as a last resort, preferring to allow refugees to return to their homes if conditions improve, rather than permanently moving to another country. The Trump administration's "zero-tolerance" policy that forcibly separated families at the U.S. southern border sparked outrage among Republicans and Democrats alike.
But anti-immigration hawks in the administration, led by presidential adviser Stephen Miller, have pushed to clamp down on refugee admissions and alleged that foreign nationals fleeing war and persecution pose a potential terrorist threat. Last year Trump temporarily banned visitors from a handful of Muslim- majority nations, and insists he'll build a wall along the US-Mexico border.
"Some will characterize the refugee ceiling as the sole barometer of America's commitment to vulnerable people around the world", he said in remarks at the State Department.
Officials say refugee settlement in the United States is very expensive.
"This year's refugee ceiling reflects the substantial increase in the number of individuals seeking asylum in our country, leading to a massive backlog of outstanding asylum cases and greater public expense", Pompeo said.
Most of those refugees end up near their countries of origin.