The State Department claimed that the "President's proposal for refugee resettlement in Fiscal Year 2021 reflects the Administration's continuing commitment to prioritize the safety and well-being of Americans, especially in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic."
"It accounts for the massive backlog in asylum cases -- now more than 1.1 million individuals -- by prioritizing those who are already in the country seeking humanitarian protection," the agency said in the note released late Tuesday night. "It also accounts for the arrival of refugees whose resettlement in the United States was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic."
Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin of Illinois and Dianne Feinstein of California denounced the proposed refugee cap.
"With this cruel decision, America has abandoned its leadership role in providing safety to refugees who are most in need of resettlement," they said in a statement Thursday.
"The Administration's actions are a shameful betrayal of our longstanding bipartisan tradition of generosity and strength and accomplish nothing except failing to protect innocent victims of persecution who pose no threat to our security and have turned to America for safety."
"President Trump has harsher words for innocent refugees than for the dictators they are escaping," they said.
Eric Schwartz, president of Refugees International and former Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration, called the proposed cap "disappointing but not surprising."
"It is part of an overall strategy of fear-mongering and vilification of refugees," he said in a statement.
At a campaign rally on Wednesday night in Duluth, Minnesota, Trump sought to foment fear about refugee resettlement.
"Another massive issue for Minnesota is the election of Joe Biden's plan to inundate your state with a historic flood of refugees," Trump said, claiming that Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders pledged a 700% increase in refugees to the state of Minnesota.
"700% increase refugees coming from the most dangerous places in the world including Yemen, Syria and your favorite country Somalia. You love Somalia," Trump said. "Biden would turn Minnesota into a refugee camp."
In the first few months of his administration, Trump asked then-acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke why he could not ban refugees from "f*****g Somalia" in a bout of rage at his Bedminster golf club, according to the book "Border Wars."
The State Department said proposed refugee resettlement program contains "specific allocations for people who have suffered or fear persecution on the basis of religion; for Iraqis whose assistance to the United States has put them in danger; for refugees from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras; and for refugees from Hong Kong, Cuba, and Venezuela." The State Department has consistently assailed those in power in the latter three countries.