In 1980, Congress passed the Refugee Act which created the Federal Refugee Resettlement Program and the current national standard for the screening and admission of refugees into the U.S. Last Friday, Donald Trump issued an executive order which suspended refugee admissions for 120 day, indefinitely barred Syrian refugees, and blocked the entry of citizens from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia for 90 days. A New York federal judge later stayed parts of the order as it applies to those currently waiting at U.S. airports for admission.
In the wake of all this, PEW just released a report on “key facts” about refugees entering the United States including:
– Nearly 39,000 Muslim refugees entered the U.S. in fiscal 2016, the highest number on record, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of data from the State Department’s Refugee Processing Center. Muslims made up nearly half (46%) of refugee admissions, a higher share than for Christians, who accounted for 44% of refugees admitted. Muslims exceeded Christians on this measure for the first time since 2006, when a large number of Somali refugees entered the U.S. From fiscal years 2002 to 2016, the U.S. admitted 399,677 Christian refugees and 279,339 Muslim refugees, meaning that 46% of all refugees who have entered the U.S. during this time have been Christian while 32% have been Muslim.
– In fiscal 2016, the highest number of refugees from any nation came from the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Congo accounted for 16,370 refugees followed by Syria (12,587), Burma (aka Myanmar, with 12,347), Iraq (9,880) and Somalia (9,020). Over the past decade, the largest numbers of refugees have come from Burma (159,692) and Iraq (135,643).
– The U.S. public has seldom approved of accepting large numbers of refugees. In October 2016, 54% of registered voters said the U.S. does not have a responsibility to accept refugees from Syria, while 41% said it does. There was a wide partisan gap on this measure, with 87% of Trump supporters saying the U.S. doesn’t have a responsibility to accept Syrians, compared with only 27% of Clinton supporters who said the same. U.S. public opinion polls from previous decades show Americans have largely opposed admitting large numbers of refugees from countries where people are fleeing war and oppression.