The cap does not require the Trump administration to resettle 30,000 refugees; in years past, governments have accepted far fewer than what is legally permitted.
During the administration of President George W. Bush, for example, the program’s ceiling accepted up to 70,000 refugees annually; it was raised to 80,000 during his final year in office. But the government only resettled about 27,000 refugees in 2002, immediately after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and accepted 28,000 the following year.
Mr. Trump, who campaigned promising a “Muslim ban,” and argued for a halt to the admission of Syrian refugees because he argued that they could be a danger to the country, has targeted the refugee resettlement program for cuts since his first days in office.
His travel ban, imposed a week after he was sworn in, temporarily halted the program and limited the number of refugees that could be resettled in the United States to 50,000. That slashed the program from the 110,000 cap that President Barack Obama had put in place before he left office.
Last year, Mr. Miller led an effort, with the support of John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff, to cut the program even more, to as low as 15,000.
But pushback from Defense and State Department officials, as well as the Joint Chiefs of Staff and members of the United States mission to the United Nations, who advocated for maintaining the 50,000 level, resulted in a ceiling of 45,000.
Even then, the administration has managed to slow refugee admissions to a trickle, admitting only 20,918 this year — less than half of the limit the president proposed.