WASHINGTON, Sept 19 (APP) –:The United States on Monday announced to sharply reduce the number of refugees it will allow to enter the country next year, the lowest ceiling ever since the program was launched in nearly 30 years ago.

President Trump has adopted a hardline approach on immigration since taking over the presidency in January last year, taking administrative measures and legal measures that has even impacted the legal immigration, with number of people coming to the United States sharply down.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced earlier another measure  capping the number of refugees at 30,000 who will be allowed in the country in 2019. The number is just about a third of the refugees admitted in 2016, the last year of the Obama administration.

While announcing the decision, Secretary Pompeo sought to deflect possible criticism on the move, saying that it should not be seen as “the sole barometer of America’s commitment to vulnerable people around the world”.

In a hard-hitting editorial, the Editorial Board of the Washington Post said it was tantamount to another milestone in America’s retreat from global leadership. The Board said even the reduced number might be an overstate actual admission, as the program has already been crippled by the use of bureaucratic means.

In recent months, the Trump administration has taken several measures taken several steps to curb illegal immigration that includes separating children from thousands of parents from Central America who had crossed over illegally.

But, the administration has also taken other measures, including terminating legal status of more than 400,000 Hondurans, Salvadorans, Nicaraguans, Haitians and others who lived in the US for many years. The administration has insisted that it was now safe for them to go home.

Secretary Pompeo said that the US expects to process upto 310,000 refugees and asylum seekers in fiscal 2019. He said the administration  was proposing 30,000 refugees under the new ceiling, as well as processing more than 280,000 asylum seekers. He said, they will join the over 800,000 asylum seekers who are already inside the US and awaiting adjudication of their claims.

“These expansive figures continue the United States’ longstanding record of the most generous nation in the world when it comes to protection-based immigration and assistance,” he added.

He said that since 2000, over one and a half million people have been admitted as refugees or granted asylum in the United States of America. Since 2001, the U.S. has permanently admitted 4.1 million total lawful permanent residents from refugee-producing nations.

“In consideration of both U.S. national security interest 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,” he said. “We must continue to responsibly vet applicants to prevent the entry of those who might do harm to our country”..