Pew study: Rest of the world takes in more refugees than US for first time

Pew study: Rest of the world takes in more refugees than US for first time
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The United States is resettling fewer refugees than the rest of the world combined according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of data from the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR).

The study found that it is the first time the U.S has resettled fewer refugees than the combined total of all other nations since the 1980 U.S. Refugee Act, which allows the president to set caps on the number admitted.


Historically, the United States has led the world in refugee admissions, having taken in more than 3 million of the 4 million refugees resettled worldwide since the law's adoption.

But in 2017, the United States took in 33,000 refugees. That figure marks a sharp decline from the roughly 97,000 refugees resettled in 2016 and the lowest amount since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, when the government suspended refugee admissions for three months.

The rest of the world admitted about twice as many refugees last year, at 69,000.

The analysis also highlights a sharp decline in U.S. refugee resettlements from 2016. The Obama administration notched a high that year, admitting 97,000 refugees.

The report notes that the U.S. often touted its refugee admissions to encourage other countries to also take in more people. Canada and Australia also saw a decrease in admissions in 2016. But Canada led the world by resettling 725 refugees per 1 million residents, a per-capita high.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpWayfair refutes QAnon-like conspiracy theory that it's trafficking children Stone rails against US justice system in first TV interview since Trump commuted his sentence Federal appeals court rules Trump admin can't withhold federal grants from California sanctuary cities MORE on the campaign trail called for cracking down on refugee admissions, arguing that the U.S. poorly vets them.

Trump last year decided to slash the number of refugee admissions to 45,000. The 1980 law allows presidents to set a cap on that number. Trump's cap was the lowest set for resettling refugees.

Trump had previously lowered the refugee cap to 50,000 in his executive order barring travelers from some Muslim-majority countries. The first version of that travel ban also temporarily halted refugee resettlements.

The administration lifted the halt on the refugee program in January, as it vowed higher scrutiny of refugees.

“These additional security measures will make it harder for bad actors to exploit our refugee program, and they will ensure we take a more risk-based approach to protecting the homeland,” Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenThe Seila Law case: Liberty and political firing Hillicon Valley: Twitter falling short on pledge to verify primary candidates | Barr vows to make surveillance reforms after watchdog report | DHS cyber chief focused on 2020 Sen. Kennedy slams acting DHS secretary for lack of coronavirus answers MORE said in a statement in January.

Would-be refugees — identified by UNHCR — undergo extensive examination before setting foot in the United States, including interviews with the FBI and health evaluations.

The administration's moves on refugees have alarmed human rights groups.

Ken Isaacs, Trump's pick to lead the top United Nations agency for migration, also lost his bid recently after comments he made disparaging Muslims and doubting climate change resurfaced.