About 20,000 refugees are expected to have arrived in the year that ends September 30, according to two refugee advocacy groups' analyses of data from the State Department's Refugee Processing Center
. About 16,000 refugees have entered the country so far this fiscal year, the data show
"We'd be lucky if we get to 21,000 by the end of the year," said Lee Williams, senior vice president of the humanitarian organization US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants. Refugee Council USA offered a similar take.
That number of entrants would be by far the lowest since the advent of modern US refugee policies in 1980
and would mark a drop of more than 60% from the 2017 fiscal year.
The expected tally also would come to less than half the maximum number of refugees the Trump administration said it would allow to resettle in the United States this year, after slashing the cap to 45,000.
In his final years in office, President Barack Obama had steadily hiked the annual cap
to 110,000 refugees.
Curbing illegal immigration long has been a goal of Trump, who campaigned on the promise to "build a great wall" on the southern border and remove all undocumented immigrants. As President, though, Trump also has tightened some rules governing legal immigration.
The Supreme Court this week upheld the President's travel ban
, which restricts entry of people from seven countries
to varying degrees. The measure -- the ban's third iteration -- does not explicitly limit refugee admittances, as did the first two.
Those restrictions, along with enhanced security screenings
enacted in January for refugees from 11 countries deemed high-risk by the administration, have led this year to a slowdown in refugee arrivals and contributed to the historic lull in admissions, refugee advocates said.
"The administration is putting unnecessary administrative hurdles in place to purposefully reduce refugee arrivals to all-time low levels," said Danielle Grigsby, associate director of Refugee Council USA, which represents resettlement agencies and other humanitarian organizations.
Systemic delays also have meant some applicants' medical and background checks have expired as they've waited for final approval to resettle in the United States, Williams said.
The committee predicts the US resettlement process for an average applicant soon will surpass the window of 18 to 24 months typically seen during the Obama