Historically, the United States has resettled more refugees than any other country.
Since the creation of the United States Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) in 1980, it has taken in 3 million of the 4 million refugees resettled worldwide and granted asylum to more than 683,000 people.
But the flow of refugees to the US has slowed dramatically since the Trump administration cut the refugee resettlement quota. That now stands at 30,000 per year.
Just 22,491 refugees were resettled in the US in the fiscal year 2018 – a record low since USRAP was set up nearly 40 years ago. UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, defines resettlement as the transfer of refugees from a state in which they have sought protection to a third state that has agreed to grant them permanent residence status. Therefore these figures do not include people crossing US borders themselves to claim asylum.
Pew Research Center regularly analyzes data on the US’s foreign-born population, and says the largest number of refugees by far came from Democratic Republic of Congo (7,878), followed by Myanmar (3,555), Ukraine (2,635), Bhutan (2,228) and Eritrea (1,269).
Closing the doors
President Donald Trump’s travel ban denies entry to the US from seven countries – five with Muslim majorities, including Syria, which has the largest number of refugees seeking resettlement in the world today.
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Syrians have been worst affected by the changes to refugee policy. In the fiscal year 2018, the US admitted only 62 Syrian refugees, compared with 12,587 in 2016.
Out of all refugees taken in during that period, 3,495 (16%) were Muslim and 16,018 (71%) were Christian.
Refugees have to apply for protection from outside the US. Asylum seekers, on the other hand, apply from inside the US or at the border.
According to the UNHCR, there are 68.5 million people worldwide who have been forced to flee their homes. More than 40 million are displaced within their own countries, 25.4 million are refugees and 3.1 million are asylum seekers.
The UN’s World Refugee Day, held each year on 20 June, honours the strength, courage and perseverance of millions of refugees across the globe.