Refugee admissions are discernibly different under President Donald Trump than they were under former-President Barack Obama: Trump is letting in a much larger percentage of Christian refugees, while Obama focused more on saving Muslims from persecution in the Middle East, according to a report from CNS News on Monday.
New data shows that in the first six months of Trump’s administration, more than half of those admitted (51.2 percent) have been Christians, compared to 43.3 percent of those who arrived during the same period one year earlier under Obama.
The proportion of Muslims among the refugees admitted during those two time periods also dropped, from 46.7 percent under Obama to 37.6 percent under Trump.
This trend has been ongoing throughout the Trump administration:
- In February, the Christian-Muslim ratio was 41 percent to 50 percent
- In April, the balance changed to 54 percent Christian and 35 percent Muslim
- In July, the gap widened to 62 percent Christian compared to 34 percent Muslim
Over the past decade, the United States had traditionally resettled more Christian refugees than Muslims from around the world, but that trend was reversed last year when Obama suddenly began favoring Muslims. In an unprecedented move for an American president, according to the Pew Research Center, of the 84,994 refugees admitted in FY 2016, 37,875 (44.5 percent) were Christians and 38,900 (45.7 percent) were Muslims.
Last March, former-Secretary of State John Kerry declared that the Islamic State had been committing genocide against Christians, Yazidis and other minorities in the Middle East. Regardless of that information, the Obama administration actually discriminated against Christians by admitting proportionately fewer of them into the United States.
Since Trump took office on January 21, a total of 20,357 refugees have been admitted into the country. Of those, 10,426 (51.2 percent) identified themselves as Christians, 7,662 (37.6 percent) as Muslims, 774 (3.8 percent) as Buddhists and 562 (2.7 percent) as Hindus.
Another 933 (4.6 percent) of admitted refugees were from smaller faith groups (including Yezidi, Baha’i, Jewish and Zoroastrian), as well as those who indicated religious affiliation as “none.”
In the year prior to that, the Obama administration admitted more than twice as many refugees (Jan. 21, 2016 – Jul. 31, 2016) – a total of 42,880, according to State Department Refugee Processing Center data.
Of those, 20,034 (46.7 percent) identified themselves as Muslims, 18,571 (43.3 percent) as Christians, 1,647 (3.8 percent) as Buddhists and 1,031 (2.4 percent) as Hindus. Another 1,597 (3.7 percent) were from smaller religious groups or professed no religion.
Denominational breakdown of Christians included “Christian,” Baptist, Catholic, Chaldean, Evangelical, Greek Orthodox, Jehovah’s Witness, Lutheran, Methodist, Orthodox, Pentecostalist, Protestant, Sabean-Mandaean, Seventh Day Adventist, Ukraine Orthodox, Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox, Ukrainian Orthodox Kyivan Patriarchate, and Uniate.
Sectarian breakdown of Muslims according to the data included “Moslem,” Sunni, Shi’ite, Ahmadi (133, all from Pakistan, whose constitution does not recognize Ahmadis as Muslims and whose penal code criminalizes Ahmadi worship), and “Ismaici” (4, from Afghanistan – apparently referring to Ismailis, a branch of Shi’a Islam.)
Countries which account for the largest Christian groups among refugees admitted under the Trump administration include:
- Burma (1,353 Christians)
- The DRC (among them 726 Christians, 751 Pentecostalists, 524 Seventh Day Adventists and 509 Catholics)
- Ukraine (including 1,072 Pentecostals and 520 Baptists)
- Eritrea (610 Orthodox)
- Iran (442 Christians)
Large Muslim groups admitted under the Trump administration include:
- 1,963 Somalis who identified themselves simply as Muslim
- 1,725 Sunnis from Syria
- 792 Sunnis
- 513 Shi’ites from Iraq
- 702 Muslims from Burma
Of the 20,357 refugee arrivals during the Trump administration, 18,808 (92.4 percent) originated from just 12 countries. From largest to smallest, the majority of refugees came from the following countries:
- The Democratic Republic of Congo (3,485)
- Burma (2,554)
- Somalia (2,093)
- Iraq (2,017)
- Ukraine (1,860)
- Syria (1,843)
- Bhutan (1,394
- Eritrea (1,168)
Trump’s travel ban executive orders restricted refugee admission numbers to a 50,000 ceiling in FY 2017, compared to the 84,994 admitted by the Obama administration in FY 2016.
As of July 31, the Trump administration has admitted 50,479 refugees since Oct. 1, 2016, breaking that ceiling. One can blame the Supreme Court for that, because, in allowing the travel ban to take partial effect, it ruled that the administration will not be able to exclude a refugee applicant purely on the basis of the executive order’s ceiling having been reached. So, if that applicant has a “credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States,” then they will be admitted.
In July, the United States had the lowest number of monthly admissions in several years – 1,224, compared to 2,852 in June, 3,989 in May, and 3,316 in April
Most of the new arrivals in July came from the following countries:
- Ukraine (257)
- DRC (250)
- Somalia (214)
- Burma (84)
- Syria (64)
- Sudan (61)
- Iraq (59)
The religious breakdown of those refugees coming to the United States in July is:
- 764 Christians (62.4 percent)
- 412 Muslims (33.6 percent)
- 48 others/unaffiliated (3.9 percent)
Christians have long been a minority group in the Middle East, often brutally persecuted for their religious beliefs. Since 2014 and the rise of the Islamic State, Christians have had to flee their homes in increasing numbers.