Patrick Goodenough, CNS News, April 3, 2017
The number of refugees admitted to the United States dropped in March to its lowest monthly tally of the current fiscal year, even as the implementation of President Trump’s latest immigration executive order continues to be held up by federal courts.
In a continuing declining trend, 2,070 refugees arrived during March, an approximately 54.79 percent drop from the 4,579 recorded in February, according to State Department Refugee Processing Center data.
The number has steadily declined in FY 2017, from 9,945 refugees admitted to the U.S. last October, to 8,355 in November, 7,371 in December and 6,777 in January.
Of the 2,070 refugees resettled in March, the largest contingents came from Somalia (335), Syria (282), Burma (278), Iraq (192), Democratic Republic of Congo (184), Ukraine (167) and Iran (101).
After an initial executive order ran into legal roadblocks, Trump issued a revised one on March 6 that once again sought to block all refugees from entering the country for 120 days. It dropped the original’s provision placing an indefinite ban on the admission of refugees from Syria, however.
The new order again included a ceiling on 50,000 refugees overall to be admitted during FY 2017. Trump declared that allowing more than that “would be detrimental to the interests of the United States.”
The U.S. District Court in Hawaii issued a temporary restraining order preventing the administration from implementing the 120-day bar on refugee entry, (as well as a 90-day bar on entry of most citizens of six terror-prone countries – Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.)
Other parts of the order, including the 50,000 refugee admission ceiling for FY 2017, were not impacted by the court action and went into effect on March 16.
The 50,000 ceiling stands in sharp contrast to the Obama administration’s announcement last fall that the U.S. would resettle 110,000 this fiscal year.
With the fiscal year now halfway through, 39,098 refugees had arrived as of March 31, of whom 30,122 arrived before the end of the Obama administration and 8,967 since Trump’s inauguration.
The countries of origin of the biggest groups of resettled refugees in FY 2017 are the Democratic Republic of Congo (6,698), Syria (5,839), Iraq (5,676), Somalia (4,917), Burma (3,270), Ukraine (2,600), Bhutan (2,132), Iran (1,969) and Afghanistan (1,027).