The number of Christian refugees admitted to the US under the Trump adminstration has fallen by 40 per cent, according to the latest government figures.
Evangelicals have hit out at the record low numbers of refugees admitted during this fiscal year – only 22,000 in total, less than half the number permitted under Trump's already low cap of 45,000.
Both President Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence have said helping Christian refugees would be a priority for them. However, according to State Department data analyzed by the Huffington Post, about 37,000 Christian refugees were admitted in 2016 during President Obama's tenure. During 2017 it was only 25,200, while this fiscal year – which ends on September 30 – the figure will be closer to 14,600.
The Christian intake, however, does represent a larger proportion of the total number as the number of Muslim refugees admitted to the US has crashed by over 90 per cent.
While the total number admitted has not approached the 45,000 cap, the White House is reportedly considering lowering the cap still further.
Refugees have been kept out by a temporary ban on all admissions and increasingly complicated vetting procedures.
'Ironically, these policies, while clearly aimed at Muslim refugees, ensure that Christians and other religious minorities from many of the countries on Trump's list of suspect travel ban nations are also kept out,' Mary Giovagnoli, director of Refugee Council USA, told NBC.
She added that this suggested the president 'has no real interest in religious persecution or the tenets of religious freedom'.
Galen Carey, the National Association of Evangelicals' vice president of Government Relations, said the refugee programme had nearly 'ground to a halt'.
'Over the past 40 years, American evangelical Christians have opened their hearts and homes to hundreds of thousands of refugees, including many persecuted believers who would otherwise not be alive today,' he said. 'This extraordinary ministry of mercy has nearly ground to a halt as the sharp reduction in refugee resettlement approvals has left tens of thousands of refugees stranded in dangerous refugee camps and settlements.
'We can and must do much better than this. We ask President Trump to allow at least 75,000 refugees to resettle in the United States in the coming year.'
Jenny Yang, senior vice president of Advocacy and Policy for World Relief, said: 'The drastic decline in refugee resettlement over the past couple years has meant that far fewer persecuted people, including those persecuted for their Christian faith, have been able to find safety and religious freedom in the US. A further cut to the ceiling for refugee resettlement would harm even more people persecuted for their faith. We're praying that President Trump will set the ceiling back at 75,000, and World Relief and our many partner churches, along with other resettlement organizations, stand ready to welcome them.'
A Reuters investigation this week revealed how the US refugee programme has been hollowed out, with steep cuts in the number of staff allocated to processing applications and 'opaque and complicated new security vetting procedures that have bogged down admissions and eliminated many candidates for resettlement'.