Being a refugee isn’t easy. Neither is getting into the United States.
Just gaining refugee status is hard; most of the millions who seek it don’t get it. Of those who do, only a fraction end up resettled in the US.
The process takes an average of 18 to 24 months, and most of it’s conducted outside the US.
Here’s how it works:
It’s a long and winding road
- The UN screens them: Refugees are people who are forced to flee their home country to escape persecution, war or violence. The UN decides the most vulnerable cases and refers them for resettlement.
- They’re out if they’ve committed a violent crime: The UN only refers those whose life, liberty or health are at significant risk. If someone is found to have committed a crime, that person doesn’t qualify for resettlement.
- The US does its own vetting: This process involves eight federal agencies, six different databases, five separate background checks, four fingerprint and biometric checks, three in-person interviews and two inter-agency checks.
- Then, it vets some more: If allowed to come to the US, refugees face another screening before embarking, and another security check at a US airport.
- Refugees begin a new life: If everything works out fine, the State Department assigns refugees to an NGO that helps them find work and housing.
Historically, the US has been very hospitable
- Since 1975, the US has resettled more than 3.3 million refugees. Last year, it took in 84,994, mostly women and children.
- But that’s just a drop in the bucket. The UN estimates there are 21.3 million refugees in the world. Turkey hosts the most: 2.8 million.
Most refugees come to the US from just 10 countries
- The country that sent the most refugees to the US last year was the Democratic Republic of Congo.
- Trump also banned all citizens of six countries from entering the U.S. for three months: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.
- Of the six countries targeted by Trump, only three were in the top 10 countries that refugees come from.
- One of the countries in the list, Libya, sent just one.
How many refugees came from the countries on Trump’s list
CNN’s Alanne Orjoux contributed to this story.