U.S. Has Admitted 46,371 Refugees So Far in FY 2017; Up 19% in May

By Patrick Goodenough | June 1, 2017 | 4:15 AM EDT

Mideast refugees trek from Serbia into Hungary. (Photo: UNHCR/Mark Henley, File)

(CNSNews.com) – A total of 3,957 refugees were admitted into the United States in May, a 19.3 percent increase over April’s figures and a 91.1 percent jump from March’s low point of 2,070 admissions.

In the first eight months of fiscal 2017, the U.S. has admitted a total of 46,371 refugees.

While the second consecutive monthly increase, May’s admission numbers are still the third lowest for any month in fiscal years 2016 and 2017, after 3,316 in April and 2,070 in March.

May’s 3,957 compares to 6,511 refugees admitted in May 2016.

(Data: State Department Refugee Processing Center/Graph: CNSNews.com)

The countries accounting for the largest numbers of refugees who arrived in May were the Democratic Republic of Congo (799), Burma (660), Bhutan (389), Ukraine (374), Somalia (294), Eritrea (276), Iraq (214), Syria (156) and Iran (125), according to State Department Refugee Processing Center data.

The admissions for May bring to 16,249 the number of refugees resettled in the U.S. since President Trump took office, with the largest contingents coming from the DRC (2,683), Burma (2,216), Iraq (1,696), Somalia(1,655) and Syria (1,603).

Trump’s executive orders seeking to halt all refugee admissions for 120 days, and to limit overall refugee admission numbers to 50,000 in the current fiscal year, remain tied up in court proceedings.

During the first eight months of fiscal year 2017, 46,371 refugees have arrived – 16,249 since Trump’s inauguration and 30,122 under his predecessor.

That’s 4,948 more refugees than were admitted to the U.S. over the same eight-month period of FY 2016, and 3,504 more than were admitted during the first eight months of FY 2015.

Trump said early in his presidency that allowing more than 50,000 refugees to resettle in the U.S. this fiscal year “would be detrimental to the interests of the United States.”

(Data: State Department Refugee Processing Center/Graph: CNSNews.com)

During the Obama presidency, refugee admission figures ranged from a low of 56,424 in FY 2011 to a high of 84,994 in FY 2016.

Trump will have to determine a ceiling for refugee admissions for FY 2018 by the time the next fiscal year starts on October 1.

The last ceiling presented to Congress by the Obama administration, last fall, was 110,000 refugee admissions for FY 2017 – a goal that looks unlikely to be achieved with four months of the fiscal year to go, even if the State Department does ease restrictions on arrivals as was recently reported.

Looking ahead, the administration appears to be preparing for smaller rather than larger intakes.

Its proposed budget for FY 2018 includes $410 million for the U.S. refugee admissions program, a drop from $462.7 million in FY 2016.

Those funds form part of an overall request for global refugee assistance of $2.746 billion, again a drop – from $3.066 billion in FY 2016 and an estimated $3.364 billion in FY 2017.

In his now-stalled immigration executive orders, Trump also wanted to halt for 90 days the entry of almost all citizens from six terror-prone countries – Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Although that provision applied to most citizens of those countries rather than to refugees specifically, since Trump took office the six countries have accounted for 4,478 refugee arrivals in the U.S. – 1,655 from Somalia, 1,603 from Syria, 779 from Iran, 425 from Sudan, 16 from Yemen, and none from Libya.

All but two of the Somali refugees are Muslims, as are about three-quarters of the Sudanese refugees, 98 percent of the Syrians, and all 16 of the Yemenis.

Of the Iranian refugees, by contrast, only 49 of the 779 refugees (6.3 percent) are Muslims, with Christians of various denominations making up the bulk of the remainder, along with Baha’i, Zoroastrians, Jews and others.

Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow