Refugee Admissions Up 40.9% So Far in FY 2019; 79.4% Christians

Patrick Goodenough | September 6, 2019 | 4:35am EDT
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Tents set up by the U.N. refugee agency near the city of Kilkis in northern Greece, on September 3, 2019.(Photo by SAKIS MITROLIDIS/AFP/Getty Images)

( – Eleven months into the fiscal year, almost five times more Christians than Muslims have been admitted into the U.S. as refugees, in sharp contrast to the situation under the Obama administration.

Christians are by far the most persecuted group worldwide. According to Open Doors USA, 245 million Christians around the world, or one in nine, are persecuted for their faith.

With the total number of admissions approaching the Trump administration’s record-low ceiling of 30,000 refugee admissions for the fiscal year, as of the end of August a total of 28,052 refugees had been resettled.

State Department Refugee Processing Center data show that the admissions during the first eleven months of FY 2019 are 40.9 percent up over the same period a year earlier, when 19,899 refugees were resettled.

Both figures – 19,899 and 28,052 – are well below those for the equivalent 11-month periods during the Obama administration: 51,392 refugees admitted in FY 2017, 72,352 in FY 2016, 57,350 in FY 2015, 64,120 in FY 2014, and 62,578 in FY 2013.

Of the 28,052 refugees admitted to the U.S. since FY 2019 began on October 1 last year, 22,281 (79.4 percent) self-identified as Christians and 4,574 (16.3 percent) as Muslims.

The remaining 1,197 refugees came from various faith groups or none, with 504 Buddhists (mostly from Burma), 182 refugees observing “no religion,” and 173 animists (all from Burma) among the largest contingents.

During much of the Obama administration, Christians outnumbered Muslims – although not by large margins – among the far larger refugee admission numbers then prevailing.

In fiscal year 2016, when a total of 84,994 refugees were resettled – the biggest annual intake since 2000 – the balance shifted slightly in the other direction, with Muslims making up 45.7 percent of the total and Christians 44.5 percent. The following year Christians again slightly outnumbered Muslims.

Under President Trump, however, the gap has widened significantly. During the first eleven months of fiscal years 2013-2019, the Christian/Muslim ratio are among admitted refugees was:

FY 2013: 6.2 percent more Christians than Muslims
FY 2014: 1.6 percent more Christians than Muslims
FY 2015: 4.2 percent more Christians than Muslims
FY 2016: 1.7 percent more Muslims than Christians
FY 2017: 3.4 percent more Christians than Muslims
FY 2018: 54.7 percent more Christians than Muslims
FY 2019: 63.1 percent more Christians than Muslims

Among the 28,052 refugees who have arrived so far in FY 2019, just two countries together accounted for 61.4 percent of the total – the Democratic Republic of Congo, with 12,528 refugees, and Burma with 4,708.

Of the top five countries of origin, only one – Afghanistan, with 1,034 refugees – is Islamic. (The last two making up the five are Ukraine, with 3,792 refugees, and Eritrea, with 1,714).

By comparison, in FY 2016 and FY 2017 three of the top five countries – Iraq, Syria, and Somalia – were Islamic, with DRC and Burma rounding out the five.

The largest Muslim refugee contingents this fiscal year have come from Afghanistan (980 Muslim refugees), Burma (888), DRC (519), Syria 454, Eritrea (343), Iraq (323), and Pakistan (226).

(All Muslim figures include Sunnis, Shi’ites, and Ahmadis – members of an Islamic sect considered heretical by many mainstream Muslims.)

Almost 900 refugees have been admitted so far this year from four of the five Muslim-majority countries included in Trump’s travel executive order. (Critics call it a “Muslim ban,” despite the fact it applies to some citizens of only five of the 57 members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.)

Since the beginning of FY 2019, the U.S. has resettled a total of 686 Muslim and 212 Christian or other refugees from those countries: 454 Muslims and 45 others from Syria; 28 Muslims and 167 others from Iran; 201 Muslims from Somalia; and three Muslims from Yemen. No refugees from Libya have been admitted.


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