Getting our facts straight: numbers of refugees admitted to the US each year

A commenter at this post about Canada said that we only ever admit 28,000 refugees a year even though the annual ceiling in the last few years has been about 70,000.   I don’t know what the final number was for 2007, but it was over 50,000 for sure.

The President sets that annual ceiling each year in consultation with Congress in a document appropriately called The Presidential Determination.  You can see the FY 2008 Determination here.     President Bush set the ceiling at 80,000.    Ceiling means that that is the top number of refugees we would take barring any unforeseen huge emergency.   

The Volags (voluntary agencies), funded to resettle refugees, would like to see that number become a goal instead of a ceiling and we should look to continued lobbying pressure to bring about that change.  They are paid by the head to resettle refugees so if the numbers drop as they did in 2002 and 2003 (due to concerns about terrorism in the wake of 9/11) the volags might have to lay off employees.   They got real lucky in those years when the federal government paid them anyway in order to keep their doors open.

For a history of the annual ceiling and the actual admissions for each year from 1983-2005 go here.  You will see in a number of years we got very close to the actual ceiling, despite our reader’s allegation that we only take 28,000 a year.

Hoping to make things easy for those of you trying to understand how Refugee Resettlement works, this post is filed in our category called “where to find information.”