According to the Pew Research Croup, the number of Muslim refugees admitted to the United States in the first half of fiscal 2018 dropped from the previous year more than any other religious group. It fell to nearly 1,800 compared with the roughly 22,900 admitted in all of fiscal 2017. Pew analyzed State Department data and found that the low point in admissions of Muslims was set in the year after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

In an overall slowdown in admissions, about 10,500 refugees, including about 6,700 Christians, entered the country from Oct. 1, 2017, to March 31, 2018. This is considerably less than the 39,100 admissions at this point in fiscal year 2017 (including 18,500 Muslims and 16,900 Christians). Christians thus account for a far larger share of refugees admitted than Muslims the first half of fiscal 2018 (63 percet vs. 17 percent). By comparison, in full fiscal 2017, Christians (47 percent) and Muslims (43 percent) were more evenly split, and in fiscal 2016 the Muslim share (46 percent) slightly exceeded the Christian share (44 percent).

The number of refugees who enter the U.S. in fiscal 2018 is expected to fall below the previous year’s total (53,700) because President Donald Trump’s administration capped admissions at 45,000 this year, the lowest since Congress created the current refugee program in 1980 for those fleeing persecution. The slower pace of U.S. refugee admissions in fiscal 2018 is also because the administration restricted admissions for several months as part of a review that resulted in tougher security screening measures. Refugee admissions fully resumed in late January 2018.

The makeup of refugees entering the country can shift within a year due to world events. For example, large numbers of Syrian Muslim refugees entered during the latter half of fiscal 2016 due to the country’s civil war. Muslim refugee admissions peaked that fiscal year at 38,900, exceeding the number of Christian refugees (37,500). The low for Muslim refugee admissions (6,100) came in fiscal 2002, when the U.S. largely suspended refugee admissions for several months and tightened security measures following the 9/11 attacks. 

The origins of U.S. refugees in fiscal 2018 align with the shift in religious affiliation. No Muslim-majority countries are represented among the top five nationalities of refugees admitted so far this fiscal year. By contrast, three of the top five origin countries of refugees in fiscal 2017 had Muslim-majority populations – Iraq, Syria and Somalia. Admissions of Muslims to the U.S. differs from global refugee trends. For each year over the past decade, about two-thirds of refugees living outside of their birth country have come from Muslim-majority countries, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees data. 

According to U.S. Census data, 2.6 million persons immigrated to the U.S. from Muslim-majority countries in 2015. According to the Pew Research Center, Muslims are reliably Democrat voters.



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