Washington: The US has announced that it would only allow 18,000 asylum seekers into the country in the 2020 fiscal year, the lowest limit in decades, as part of its wider strategy to curb the entry of migrants.

The refugee ceiling proposed by President Donald Trump’s administration for the fiscal year of 2020 – which runs from October to September of next year – shows a considerable decrease compared to the admission quota of 30,000 people in 2019 and the cap of 45,000 refugees that was in place in 2018, reports Efe news.

The US Department of State in a statement on Thursday said that “at the core of the Trump administration’s foreign policy is a commitment to make decisions based on reality, not wishes, and to drive optimal outcomes based on concrete facts”.

The US said that it was making progress in “attacking problems at the source” where they originate, and that it “has worked hard to resolve conflicts in Syria and Afghanistan, strengthen economies and governance in Central American countries, and support the legitimate government in Venezuela against (President Nicolas) Maduro’s tyranny”.

The State Department also referred to the factors weighing down on the nation’s immigration system and noted the importance of “prioritizing the humanitarian protection cases” of those already in the country.

As part of its argument, the government spoke of a “humanitarian and security crisis” along its southern border with Mexico, claiming that it “imposes an extraordinary burden on the US immigration system”.

For that reason, the government underlined the importance of the diplomatic agreements “to address issues of illegal immigration and border security” that it has reached with Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, countries that make up Central America’s Northern Triangle, where most of the undocumented immigrants attempting to enter US territory come from.

Honduras signed an immigration pact with Washington on Wednesday after El Salvador did the same on September 20, while Guatemala had done so on July 26, although that deal has yet to come into effect.

The pacts will allow Washington to redirect the resources allocated to asylum cases, which now involve “one million individuals”, according to the State Department.

Earlier this year, Trump ordered to cut off all kinds of assistance to the Central American countries after accusing their leaders of “doing nothing” for the Americans and allowing the formation of caravans of immigrants to enter his country.

The administration has also opposed granting Temporary Protected Status to Venezuelans in the US, a permit that would allow them to work and live legally in the country.

“This year’s refugee admissions proposal has specific allocations for people persecuted on account of their religious beliefs, Iraqis whose assistance to the US has put them in danger, and legitimate refugees from Northern Triangle countries,” the State Department said.

Under the new provision, 5,000 places will be reserved for those who have been persecuted – or have a reasonable fear of being persecuted – for religious reasons, 4,000 for Iraqis who have supported the US in the war, 1,500 for citizens of the Northern Triangle and 7,500 for those who do not fall under the aforementioned categories, a senior administration official told reporters in a phone conference.

Earlier on Thursday, Trump signed an executive order mandating that refugees be resettled in areas where both the state and local governments have given their consent to receive them.