60% Jump in Refugees Admitted to U.S. from March to April

By Patrick Goodenough | May 2, 2017 | 4:31 AM EDT

A U.N. refugee camp for Syrians in northern Jordan. (Photo: UNHCR/A.McDonnell)

(CNSNews.com) – With President Trump’s immigration executive orders still being held up by federal courts, the number of refugees admitted into the United States from around the world increased by 60.2 percent in April, with 3,316 arrivals compared to 2,070 in March.

The monthly tally is still the second smallest this fiscal year. The last time fewer than 4,000 admissions was recorded in one month – apart from March – was in November 2015, before the Obama administration launched a “surge” in early 2016 aimed at bringing in larger numbers of refugees fleeing Syria’s civil war.

The April intake of 3,316 refugees marked a 43 percent drop from the figure for April 2016, when 5,857 were admitted.

The president’s executive orders, issued in January and again in March, sought to block all refugees from entering the country for 120 days. The original one also placed an indefinite ban on the admission of refugees from Syria specifically, although that was dropped in the March version.

The admission of refugees from Syria in particular raised concerns because law enforcement leaders admitted there were limits to the extent security agencies could vet applicants from that country because of the ongoing civil war.

According to State Department Refugee Processing Center data, 226 Syrian refugees were admitted in April, comprising 190 Sunnis (84 percent), 31 refugees identified simply as Muslims (13.7 percent), and five Christians (2.2 percent).

Of the 226, 63 (27.8 percent) were males aged 14-50, and another 63 were females in the same age bracket. Twenty-seven (11.9 percent) of the Syrian refugees were older than 50, and 73 (32.3 percent) were under 14 – 39 boys and 34 girls.

Since the start of the Trump administration, a total of 1,447 Syrian refugees have been admitted into the United States. Of them, 98.4 percent were Muslims, 1.3 percent Christians and 0.2 percent Yazidis.

The temporary refugee ban elements of both of Trump’s executive orders remain suspended, although the court rulings suspending implementation do not apply to a ceiling on 50,000 refugees overall to be admitted during FY 2017. Trump stated that allowing more than 50,000 during the year “would be detrimental to the interests of the United States.”

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

By contrast, the Obama administration admitted 84,994 refugees in FY 2016, and last fall informed Congress of a target of 110,000, almost 30 percent more, for this fiscal year.

By the time President Obama left office, a total of 30,122 refugees had arrived in FY 2017. Since Trump’s inauguration, a further 12,292 have arrived up until the end of April, for a total of 42,414.

With the ceiling of 50,000, that means only 7,586 more will be eligible for resettlement from now until the end of September.

Of the 3,316 refugees resettled in April, there were sizeable increases in the number of those coming from the Democratic Republic of Congo (607 refugees, up from 184 in March), Burma (489, up from 278 in March), and Iraq (463, up from 192 the previous month).

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

Those three countries accounted together for almost half of the total number of refugee arrivals in April.

From the DRC, the vast majority – 581 or 95.7 percent – are Christians. The refugees from Burma arriving in April included 288 (58.9 percent) Christians, 106 (21.6 percent) Muslims and 92 (18.8 percent) Buddhists, while those from Iraq included 350 (75.6 percent) Muslims and 99 (21.3 percent) Christians.

Other countries of origin of larger contingents of refugees arriving during April included Ukraine (269, up from 167 in March), Somalia (250, down from 335) Syria (226, down from 282) and Iran (167, up from 101).

Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow