After Zero Refugee Arrivals in October, November Admissions Set 18-Year Low for That Month

By Patrick Goodenough | December 2, 2019 | 4:40am EST
Displaced Syrians in a camp in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region in October. (Photo by Safin Hamed/AFP via Getty Images)
Displaced Syrians in a camp in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region in October. (Photo by Safin Hamed/AFP via Getty Images)

( –  After an unprecedented month of not a single refugee admission into the United States in October, last month saw a total of 1,488 refugees arrive, according to State Department Refugee Processing Center data.

The November arrivals were the lowest for the month since 2001, when in the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks on America just four refugees were resettled in the U.S.

Between then and this year, the number of admissions during the second-last month of the calendar year has ranged from a low of 1,858 refugees (also under the Trump administration, in 2017), and a high of 8,355 (under the Obama administration, in 2016).

(Table: / Data: State Department RPC)
(Table: / Data: State Department RPC)

President Trump has signed off on a ceiling of 18,000 refugee admissions for fiscal year 2020, the lowest annual cap set by a president since the modern refugee admission program was established in 1980.

Of the 1,488 refugees to have arrived during November, the countries of origin of the largest numbers were the Democratic Republic of Congo (509 refugees) and Burma (337 refugees). Other sizeable groups included 91 Afghans, 78 Ukrainians, 50 Iraqis, and 37 Syrians.

A total of 1,143 of the refugees admitted in November (77 percent) self-identified as Christians, with larger contingents including 254 Christians (no denomination specified) from Burma, 153 Pentecostalists from DRC, 102 Seventh-Day Adventists from DRC, 74 Catholics from DRC, and 62 Baptists from Moldova.

Two hundred and ninety-nine of the November arrivals (20 percent) were Muslims, including 55 Shi’ites from Afghanistan, and 32 Sunnis from Syria.

Other refugees included 13 Buddhists from Burma, five Yazidis from Iraq, one Hindu from Sri Lanka, and one Zoroastrian from Iran. Twenty-one refugees, mostly from Afghanistan, El Salvador and Guatemala, self-identified as having “no religion.”

October was the first month since the 1980 Refugee Act was enacted that not a single refugee was resettled in the United States.

The first refugees to be admitted in FY 2020 were recorded as having been resettled in the U.S. on November 5. One hundred and ninety-nine refugees arrived that day, among them 63 Christians from DRC, 38 Christians from Ukraine, 25 Syrian Sunnis, and 16 Afghan Sunnis.

One hundred and ninety refugees arrived on November 6, including 82 Christians from DRC, and 13 Iraqis – seven Muslims, three Christians and three Yazidis.

Sixteen Somali Muslims were among the 174 refugees who were admitted on November 7.


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