Just gaining refugee status is hard; most of the millions who seek it don’t get it. Only a fraction of those who do, end up resettled in the US.
The process takes an average of 18 to 24 months, and most of it’s conducted outside the US.
Here’s how it works:
It’s a long and winding road
- The UN screens them : Refugees are people who are forced to flee their home country to escape persecution, war or violence. The UN decides the most vulnerable cases and refers them for resettlement.
- They’re out if they’ve committed a violent crime : The UN only refers those whose life, liberty or health are at significant risk. If someone is found to have committed a crime, that person doesn’t qualify for resettlement.
- The US does its own vetting: This process involves eight federal agencies, six different databases, five separate background checks, four fingerprint and biometric checks, three in-person interviews and two inter-agency checks.
- Then, it vets some more
- Refugees begin a new life
: If allowed to come to the US, refugees face another screening before embarking, and another security check at a US airport.
: If everything works out fine, the State Department assigns refugees to an NGO that helps them find work and housing.
Historically, the US has been very hospitable
- Since 1975, the US has resettled more than 3.3 million refugees. Last year, it took in 84,994, mostly women and children.
- But that’s just a drop in the bucket. The UN estimates there are 21.3 million refugees in the world. Turkey hosts the most: 2.8 million.
Most refugees come to the US from just 10 countries
- The country that sent the most refugees to the US last year was the Democratic Republic of Congo.
- Trump also banned all citizens of seven countries from entering the U.S. for three months: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.
- Of the seven countries targeted by Trump, only four were in the top 10 countries that refugees come from.
- One of the countries in the list, Libya, sent just one.