Insights Aug 02, 2021

A Quick Look at National Refugee Admissions

Katherine Kelso, Data Analyst

The United States is witnessing a surge in people seeking asylum, yet thousands have been denied entry—a result of Trump Administration policies and holds in place from COVID-19. 

Before looking forward, it is relevant to consider historic trends. Below is an interactive visualization displaying the Annual Refugee Admission Ceiling against the actual number of people admitted, with filters for presidential administrations since 1980. This historical analysis allows viewers a “big picture” perspective on refugee admission trends.  

It is clear refugee admissions targets will be difficult to reach in 2021 despite President Biden’s new migration policy—raising last year’s historically low admission ceiling from 15,000 refugees to 62,500—and his accompanying statement “[i]t is important to take this action today to remove any lingering doubt in the minds of refugees around the world who have suffered so much, and who are anxiously waiting for their new lives to begin.” Biden acknowledged this quandary but placed the focus on the previous administration: “[t]he sad truth is that we will not achieve 62,500 admissions this year. We are working quickly to undo the damage of the last four years. It will take some time, but that work is already underway.” Instead of focusing on calendar year targets, Biden reiterated a goal of achieving 125,000 refugee admissions by the first fiscal year of his presidency. Pending further COVID-19 impacts, this goal may also be unachievable.

What refugee migration trends do you expect to see?  

Sources: Migration Policy