Obama Admin. Admits Record Number of Muslim Refugees in FY 2016

Caroline May | Reporter

The Obama administration admitted a record 38,901 Muslim refugees in fiscal year 2016, according to an analysis of State Department data conducted by the Pew Research Center.

The 38,901 tally, released Wednesday, represents the highest level of Muslim refugee admissions since 2002 — the earliest available data on self-reported religious affiliations, according to Pew.

In total in FY 2016, the Obama administration admitted 84,995 refugees from 79 countries. Muslim refugees make up nearly half — 46 percent — of those admissions. The 37,521 Christian refugees admitted to the United States, meanwhile, comprised 44 percent of all refugee admissions.

As Pew notes, FY 2016 represents the first time in 10 years that the number of Muslim refugee admissions have outpaced those of Christians refugee. The last time the United States admitted more Muslim than Christian refugees was in 2006 when the nation admitted a swell of Somali refugees.

Over 70 percent of the refugees admitted in FY 2016 (which ended in September), the State Department said Tuesday, were from five countries: the Democratic Republic of the Congo (16,370), Syria (12,587), Burma (12,347), Iraq (9,880), and Somalia (9,020).

According to Pew, Muslim refugees from Syria (12,486) and Somali (9,012) represented more than half of the Muslim refugee admissions in FY 2016 with the remainder largely from Iraq (7,853), Burma (3,145), Afghanistan (2,664) and elsewhere (3,741).

Meanwhile, the top receiving states for refugees were California (7,916), Texas (7,803), New York (5,035), Michigan (4,257), and Ohio (4,199).

This fiscal year (FY 2017) the State Department says it plans to admit another 110,000 refugees, a newly 30 percent increase over this fiscal year and more than twice the level admitted in FY 2015.

“Looking forward, the United States will welcome 110,000 refugees in Fiscal Year 2017,” the State Department explained in its most recent Fact Sheet, released Tuesday. “This is a 57 percent increase over FY 2015 and is consistent with the belief that all nations must do more to help the record number of innocent civilians who are uprooted, cast adrift, and desperate to find peace, safety and the chance to rebuild their lives.”

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