Refugee admissions to the United States in the first quarter of FY 2018 under the Trump administration fell 79 percent to 5,323, compared to 25,671 in the first quarter of FY 2017 during the last three full months of the Obama administration.
The faith background of refugees admitted to the United States during the first quarter of FY 2018, which began October 1, 2017 and ended on December 31, 2017, differed dramatically from that of refugees admitted during the same period one year earlier, from October 1, 2016 to December 31, 2016.
Only 13 percent of refugees admitted during the first quarter of FY 2018, or 715 out of 5,323, were Muslim, while 60 percent, or 3,210 out of 5,323, were Christian, according to the State Department’s interactive website.
In contrast, 46 percent of refugees admitted during the first quarter of FY 2017, or 11,851 out of 25,671, were Muslim, while 44 percent, or 11,377 out of 25,671, were Christian.
The top countries of origin differed significantly as well.
The top five countries of origin for refugees admitted during the first quarter of FY 2018 were: Bhutan (1,535), Democratic Republic of Congo (1,154), Burma (655), Ukraine (487), Eritrea (428).
In contrast, the top five countries of origin for refugees admitted during the first quarter of FY 2017 were: Democratic Republic of Congo (5,179), Syria (3,566), Somalia (3,488), Burma (2,011), and Bhutan (1,455).
Refugee admissions from Syria and Somalia plummeted dramatically during the first quarter of FY 2018. Only 128 refugees were admitted from Somalia, while only 33 were admitted from Syria.
All told, only 298 refugees were admitted into the United States in the first quarter of FY 2018 from the seven countries whose citizens were temporarily banned from traveling to the United States in President Trump’s Executive Order 13679 signed on January 27, 2017 that marked the beginning of significant legal battles over immigration policies last year: Somalia (128), Iraq (77), Syria (33), Sudan (31), Iran (29), Yemen (0), and Libya (0).
The dramatic reduction in refugee admissions during the first quarter of the first full fiscal year under the Trump administration marks the fulfillment of a campaign promise the president made during the election of 2016.
Refugee admissions have steadily declined since FY 2016, the last full year of the Obama administration, when 84,995 were admitted.
In FY 2017, 3 months and 20 days of which were under the Obama administration, 53,716 refugees were admitted.
In September of 2017, President Trump announced a presidential determination that the ceiling for refugees in FY 2018 would be 45,000.
As critics of the federal refugee resettlement program have noted, that number represents a maximum ceiling rather than a number that must be reached.
The actual number of refugees admitted during any fiscal year is a consequence of the presidential determination of the maximum ceiling, Congressional funding, and the implementation of refugee screening procedures.
Under the Trump administration, refugee screening procedures have been tightened, slowing down the flow of potential refugees.
If refugee admissions continue at the same pace for the remaining three quarters of FY 2018 as they have for the first quarter of FY 2018, total admissions for FY 2018 will fall below 22,000, which is more than 23,000 below the maximum ceiling of 45,000 set in the September presidential determination.