President Donald Trump has cut the number of refugees allowed into the United States to a historic low of 15,000 in the current fiscal year.
The figure includes 6,000 unused places from the previous financial year due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Trump said in a statement distributed by the White House in the early hours of Wednesday.
The policy caps the number of refugees who can be admitted from Iraq at 4,000 and the number admitted from El Salvador, Guatemala or Honduras at 1,000.
The remaining 10,000 spots are for people who fear persecution for their religious beliefs or political activities or who are referred to the United States Refugee Admissions Programme.
The statement additionally specifies that persons from certain high-risk areas of terrorist presence or control, including Somalia, Syria, and Yemen, shall not be admitted as refugees, except those refugees of special humanitarian concern.
The US State Department had announced the cut would happen earlier in the month, saying it was necessary to prioritize the safety and well-being of Americans, especially in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The number is the lowest level since the introduction of the US refugee programme in 1980.