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Changes in refugee policy between presidential administrations caused big shifts in the number of refugees admitted to the US in the last decade. In fiscal year 2016, the US admitted about 85,000 refugees. By 2021, that number dropped to 6,300. President Joe Biden announced his first adjustment to the refugee admissions cap in May, and with plans to increase the 2022 fiscal year limit to 125,000.

Where refugees settle in the US depends on where they come from and the locally available resources to help them succeed.

Where do refugees resettle?

Texas and California top the list of states receiving refugees between fiscal years 2010 and  2021, each accepting more than 50,000 refugees total. New York, Michigan, and Arizona round out the top five on refugees resettled. Twenty four states and Washington, DC resettled fewer than 1% of refugees from 2010 to 2021 with a total of 53,067.

Some states had a large number of refugee resettlements for a short period of time, before the numbers drop off. Ohio was in the top five for resettlements in 2016, 2017, and 2018 but eighth in total refugees from 2010 to 2021. Kentucky ranked in the top five for 2019 and 2021, but was 14th for total refugees in the last twelve years.

Between 2010 and 2021, 19% of refugees coming to the US were resettled in Texas and California.

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How does the government determine resettlement locations?

Several governmental agencies, including the State Department and the Department of Health and Human Services, work with nine resettlement organizations to coordinate refugee integration in the US. After receiving case records from the State Department’s overseas Resettlement Support Centers, these nine organizations help meet the specific needs of individual refugees. This includes choosing which state provides the best opportunity to succeed and introducing the refugee to a network of community services from health providers, schools, housing and more according to the State Department.

Where do refugees migrate from?

African countries have sent the most refugees to the US in the last four fiscal years. Seventy-seven percent of these refugees came from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Between 1975 and 2018, about 1.5 million refugees came from Burma and other East Asian countries, the most of any region.  The Latin America/Caribbean region was the origin of the fewest refugees since 1975, with 131,642 admitted.

Since 2001, most admitted refugees have been from Africa.

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The Refugee Processing Center (RPC) is operated by the U.S Department of State (DOS) Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) in the Rosslyn section of Arlington, Virginia USA.

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