President Donald Trump’s controversial executive order last week that bans travel from seven majority-Muslim countries and suspends refugee admission into the United States has many concerned about the direction of U.S. immigration policy.
The order banned travel into the United States for 90 days for people coming from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan and Yemen — not including green card holders. The order also suspended refugee admissions for 120 days, and indefinitely for refugees coming from Syria.
So, how many refugees have entered into the United States, and where were they from?
In 2016, 38,901 Muslim refugees entered the United States—making up 46 percent of the nearly 85,000 refugees who entered the United States that year, according to a Pew Research Center report. At the same time, 37,521 Christian refugees were admitted to the United States in 2016, according to Pew.
The majority of the refugees admitted were from Syria (12,486), Somalia (9,012), with the remainder coming from Iraq, Myanmar, Afghanistan among other, according to Pew.
After nearly six years of war in Syria, Pew estimates there are approximately 11 million Syrian refugees around the world. The United States admitted about 12,000 refugees from Syria in 2016 under President Obama. But the highest number of refugees admitted to the U.S. in 2016 actually came from the Democratic Republic of Congo — with 16,370 admitted that year.
Several lawmakers, as well as some within the government have slammed Trump’s order, including a group of career foreign service officers who have issued a letter in dissent.
“A policy which closes our doors to over 200 million legitimate travelers in the hopes of preventing a small number of travelers who intend to harm Americans from using the visa system to enter the United States will not achieve its aim of making our country safer,” the letter read in part.
President Trump argued that the order was created to create “strong borders and extreme vetting,” saying in the order itself that “the visa-issuance process plays a crucial role in detecting individuals with terrorist ties and stopping them from entering the United States.”
Our country needs strong borders and extreme vetting, NOW. Look what is happening all over Europe and, indeed, the world – a horrible mess!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 29, 2017