The US government said it would cut almost half the number of refugees allowed into the country.

 The US Department of State says 18,000 people will be admitted as part of a government refugee program over the next 12 months. This is a record low.

The report said, that places will be reserved for Iraqis who helped the US military, as well as members of the persecuted religious minorities.

Human rights groups have also criticized this move.

President Donald Trump has signed an executive decree that allows state and local governments to refuse to relocate refugees to their communities.

This order should provide “the resettlement of refugees in communities that are eager and willing to support their successful integration into American society and labor”, – he said.

The previous lowest reception rate was in 2002, after the 9/11 attacks. Then, about 27,000 refugees were allowed into the United States.

The number of refugees crossing the southern border of Mexico represented an “extraordinary burden” for the authorities, the statement said.

“The current burden on the US immigration system must be eased before the opportunity to resettle a large number of refugees reappears”, –  said the state department.

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