Continuing to Make #RefugeesWelcome

In the midst of the worst refugee crisis the world has seen in 70 years, the United States is committed to remaining the world leader in refugee resettlement, welcoming more refugees through the international resettlement system than any other country. In recognition of this commitment, President Obama pledged last fall that the United States would welcome 85,000 of the world’s most vulnerable refugees for resettlement in Fiscal Year 2016. 

As of Friday, September 30, we have welcomed 84,995 refugees from around the world in Fiscal Year 2016. This is the highest number of vulnerable people fleeing the horrors of war and persecution to be resettled in the United States in the last 15 years. As Secretary Kerry has said, this is who we are; this is America at its best.

President Obama emphasized the importance of offering safety to the world’s refugees during the Leaders’ Summit on Refugees in September: “To slam the door in the face of these families would betray our deepest values. It would deny our own heritage as nations … that have been built by immigrants and refugees. And it would be to ignore a teaching at the heart of so many faiths that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us; that we welcome the stranger in our midst.”

[State Department graphic]

This year’s refugee admissions included individuals from all over the world. Over 70 percent of all refugees resettled in the United States this year came from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Syria, Burma, Iraq, and Somalia, countries with dramatic and protracted displacement crises. 

Seventy-two percent of all refugee admissions this year were women and children; forty-five percent of all admissions were children.

American communities have long been the bedrock of the United States Refugee Admissions Program, and the Department of State is proud to work with partners in 48 states. 

This year, communities in California, Texas, New York, Michigan, and Ohio welcomed more than one-third of all refugees. And in each community across the nation where refugees arrived, eager to begin new lives far from the violence and strife they left behind, networks of volunteers and local organizations have committed incredible resources and compassion to helping these vulnerable people start over.

Looking forward to next year, President Obama has determined the United States should welcome 110,000 refugees in Fiscal Year 2017. This is a 57 percent increase over FY 2015, and is consistent with our belief that all countries should do more to help the world’s most vulnerable people.

About the Author: Larry Bartlett serves as the Director of the Office of Refugee Admissions in the Bureau of Population, Refugee, and Migration at the U.S. Department of State.

For more information:

A Syrian refugee smiles as she looks at her youngest son sitting on a suitcase at the airport before a flight to their new home.
Posted by Larry Bartlett
October 3, 2016


Latest Stories

January 19, 2017

What We Got Right

With a new administration taking office this week, it is natural to assess the inheritance it will receive from the… more