30,000 Muslim refugees accepted in U.S. in 2016

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The U.S. has accepted more Muslim refugees than any other religious group during the current fiscal year, according to data compiled by the Pew Research Center.

Nearly half of the more than 63,000 refugees who have been granted residency this year are Muslim – marking the highest number since fiscal year 2002 when self-reported data on religious affiliation was first made public.

The U.S. has admitted 28,957 Muslim refugees so far, or 46 percent of total admitted refugees, during the current fiscal year that ends Sept. 30.

Christians follow closely behind at 27,556 admitted, or 44 percent of the total.

Ten percent of admitted refugees have declared their faith to be one other than Christianity or Islam.
With more than a month remaining in the fiscal year it is unclear if the current trends will hold for the full term.

But so far more than half of Muslim refugees have originated from just two countries – Syria and Somalia. Iraq, Myanmar and Afghanistan round out the top five countries.

Other countries combined for just shy of 10 percent of all Muslim refugees.

With just a month and a half to go before the end of the fiscal year, the Obama administration will have to redouble efforts to meet its pledge to resettle some 10,000 Syrian refugees. To date the administration has resettled 8,569 Syrian refugees.

That’s about 86 percent of the initial goal, and of those already settled from Syria, 99 percent are Muslim, and less than 1 percent are Christian.

Still, refugees accounted for only 10 percent of the roughly 1 million immigrants granted U.S. residency each year.

Of note, refugees are different from asylum seekers who are already in the U.S., or are attempting entry at an airport or land border when they seek asylum.

Refugees, however, are processed abroad where they go through a rigorous interview process. If approved, they are resettled in the U.S. by a non-governmental organization in partnership with the federal government.

Pew’s research relied on data from the State Department’s Refugee Processing Center.