Refugee Resettlement Roundup for FY 2019

By Nayla Rush on October 4, 2019

The new fiscal year started Tuesday, and it is customary we take a look at last fiscal year's refugee resettlement admissions.

In FY 2019, (October 1, 2018 to September 30, 2019), a total of 30,000 refugees were resettled in the United States, under a refugee ceiling of 30,000. Refugees admitted were mostly Christian (79.2 percent), while Muslims accounted for 16.5 percent, and Animists, Buddhists, and Hindus accounted for 2.5 percent. The top five countries of origin were: Congo (DRC and ROC combined), Myanmar (Burma), Ukraine, Eritrea, and Afghanistan.

As a reminder, FY 2018's ceiling was 45,000, and actual admissions totaled 22,491. Both FY 2018 and FY 2019 ceiling determinations set by President Trump (45,000 and 30,000 respectively) are the lowest ceilings since Congress passed the Refugee Act of 1980. FY 2018's total admissions of 22,491 were also the lowest number since the beginning of the resettlement program. Total yearly admissions have at times been lower than others (for instance, following 9/11, admissions fell to 27,131 in FY 2002 and 28,403 in FY 2003 – both years had a 70,000 ceiling), but FY 2018 is an all-time low.

(See here for the details of FY 2018 refugee resettlement admissions under the Trump administration and here for the details of FY 2016 refugee admissions, the last year fully within the Obama administration.)

The "travel ban" that accounted for part of the discrepancy between FY2018 ceiling and actual admissions was lifted early in 2018 but "additional specialized screening for refugee applicants who are nationals of certain high-risk countries" was put in place. These "high risk countries" are reportedly Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Mali, North Korea, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. A total of 1,851 refugees (of whom 1,253 Muslims, 318 Christians) were resettled from these countries in FY 2019: Egypt 4, Iran 199, Iraq 465, North Korea 1, Mali 3, Somalia 231, Sudan 382, Syria 563 and Yemen 3.

The proposed FY 2020 refugee ceiling is 18,000. This fiscal year, the Trump administration plans on focusing its efforts and resources on proximity help to assist the millions of refugees stranded in countries close to their homes and on addressing the important asylum backlog that now involves nearly one million individuals.

FY 2019 Refugee Resettlement Admissions (data gathered from the Refugee Processing Center portal):


Total Admissions: 30,000 Refugees

Christians: 23,754 (79.2 percent)

Muslims: 4,943 (16.5 percent)

Animist, Buddhist, Hindu: 753 (2.5 percent)


Top 10 Nationalities

Congo (DRC and ROC combined): 12,961

Myanmar (Burma): 4,932

Ukraine: 4,451

Eritrea: 1,757

Afghanistan: 1,198

Syria: 563

Iraq: 465

Sudan: 382

El Salvador: 311

Colombia: 298


Monthly Admissions:

October 2018: 1,834

November 2018: 2,150

December 2018: 1,722

January 2019: 1,457

February 2019: 2,217

March 2019: 2,776

April 2019: 2,653

May 2019: 3,242

June 2019: 3,209

July 2019: 3,438

August 2019: 3,358

September 2019: 1,944

Topics: Refugees