Refugees and Asylees


Refugee Country of Origin

The World Refugee Population and Annual U.S. Refugee Admissions

by Eirini Giannaraki, Graduate Research Assistant, IIR

Refugee admissions to the United States have dropped sharply in the last three years. In FY 2016, 84,995 refugees were admitted in the United States. Since then, the number of refugee admissions has decreased by 65 percent. In FY 2017, 53,716 individuals were resettled in the United States, whereas in FY 2018 the total number of admissions was 22,491. In FY2019, only 30,000 were admitted.

On November 1, 2019, the Trump administration released the Presidential Determination on Refugee Admissions for FY 2020 when the United States will admit up to 18,000 refugees – marking a historic low and threatening to further shrink the refugee resettlement program. In the first month of FY 2019, the U.S. received zero refugees, which had never happened in the thirty years that the resettlement program has existed.

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Photo Credit: Canva

The Experiences of Migrant Women and Human Smuggling

by Carol Cleaveland and Vicki Kirsch, Department of Social Work, George Mason University

The news is filled with accounts of women and children from Central America arriving at the U.S. border and seeking asylum. While we are learning a great deal about their struggles once they arrive at the southern border, far less is known about their journey from Central America to the United States. Government statistics show that many women are migrating with their children, and the number of families apprehended at the border has increased in recent years. Many of these women rely on human smugglers to transport them and their children across Mexico to the U.S. border. This research revealed the reality of human smuggling from the perspective of migrant women from Central America. Their testimony and experiences can teach us about the trauma they face during migration and how it continues to impact them when they arrive in the United States.

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This version is adapted from an article that appeared in Qualitative Social Work, April 2019.


World Refugee Day 2019

World Refugee Day was June 20th. Here are some quick facts about refugee admissions in the United States in 2019. The refugee ceiling is set at 30,000 for Fiscal Year 2019. Thus far into the fiscal year, the US has admitted 18,051 refugees, or 60 percent of the total allowable. It is likely that the US will not admit all 30,000 refugees this year.

Refugee Admissions 2001-2018

Refugee Admissions in Historical Perspective

Each year, under the provisions of the Refugee Act of 1980, the president, in consultation with Congress, determines the number of refugees to be resettled in the United States. That overall refugee cap is further divided into five caps for five regions of the world. The overall and regional caps have varied over time depending on international conditions and U.S. foreign policy priorities, among other factors. And the actual number of refugees admitted has varied as well.