By the Numbers: The United States of Refugees

President Trump’s order temporarily barring all refugees and many immigrants has ignited debate about U.S. policies toward outsiders

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The United States has long been the global leader in resettling refugees, strictly defined as people forced to flee their home country to escape war, persecution or violence. Since October 2001, more than 895,000 refugees have settled here, typically after being referred by the United Nations and vetted by the State Department in a process that takes at least 18 months. (By comparison, a million or so legal immigrants arrive annually.) 

As you can see from the map below, refugees to the United States have come mostly from the Middle East, Asia and Africa. While many immigrants, legal and undocumented, come from Latin America, U.S. regulations make it difficult for Central and South Americans to qualify as refugees.

Where They're From

Where They’re From
Data is from October 2001 through 2016. Burma, Iraq. Somalia, Bhutan, and Iran are the top five nations that send refugees to the U.S. (Haisam Hussein)

Where They End Up

Since October 2001, the most populous states have also resettled the most refugees, but some states have accommodated more than might be expected, while others have taken in fewer. (Haisam Hussein)

Somalia to Minnesota. Burma to Indiana. Settling in the States

These pie charts compare refugee populations resettled in 41 states since October 2001. For clarity, the breakdown in each state is limited to nationalities with at least 500 people, and no more than the top 5 nationalities are shown. Below each state name is the number of refugees, in bold, reflected in the pie chart; it’s followed by the total number of refugees.

states that have settled
Not shown are states that have settled fewer than 500 refugees from a single country since October 2001: Alabama (1,683 refugees total), Alaska (1,222), Arkansas (168), Delaware (165), Hawaii (127), Mississippi (110), Montana (107), West Virginia (189) and Wyoming (6). Source: United States Department of State, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (Haisam Hussein)
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