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New Data Indicate Annual Refugee Admissions on Pace for Historic Lows

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New Data Indicate Annual Refugee Admissions on Pace for Historic Lows

August 5, 2021
Contact: Timothy Young | | 443-257-6310
Washington D.C. – New data released by the State Department indicate that annual refugee admissions for Fiscal Year 2021 remain on pace for historic lows. In July, the U.S. resettled 1,463 refugees, totaling 6,246 for the fiscal year ending September 30. The lowest admissions level since the creation of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program in 1980 came in FY2020 under the Trump administration, when the U.S. resettled just 11,814 refugees.

In May 2021, President Biden raised the all-time low refugee admissions ceiling set by former President Trump from 15,000 to 62,500. Since taking office, the Biden administration has sought to rebuild the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program after four consecutive years of cuts and a wave of resettlement office closures, further complicated by challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

In its first full six months in office, the administration has resettled the following numbers of refugees:

  • February: 377    
  • March: 283
  • April: 272
  • May: 915
  • June: 1,530
  • July: 1,463

According to the State Department data, the top countries of origin for resettled refugees include the Democratic Republic of Congo (2,783), Ukraine (687), Afghanistan (494), Burma (415), and Syria (414).

“In some ways, these figures represent progress. There is a significant upward trend in recent months, indicating that the administration’s efforts are making an impact,” said Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, President and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service. “However, admissions remain tragically and historically low compared to America’s capacity to welcome and the urgent need of millions of families across the globe.”

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that there are 82.4 million displaced people, of which 26.5 million are refugees.

“Given the humanitarian imperative, especially in conflict zones like Afghanistan, we simply have to do better,” noted Vignarajah. “While the challenges are numerous, it is critical that the administration take all necessary steps to restore the program to its full capacity — otherwise, President Biden’s promise to welcome 125,000 refugees in FY2022 will remain out of reach.”


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