Decreased Allowance of Refugees in the United States

Summary

While the number of individuals who have been forcibly displaced (which includes refugees, internally displaced people, and asylum-seekers) has increased to an estimated 70.8 million people, the number of refugees allowed into the United States annually has decreased to 18,000.~f This leads to overpopulated detention centers, family separation, and perpetuated mental health problems. This decreased allowance has stemmed from a progression of cultural influences—especially media portrayals—that affected public opinion and contributed to administrative policies. Some practices to resolve this have been efforts to reform policy, provide asylum-seekers with proper legal counsel, and educate the public on the truth of refugee resettlement in the United States.

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Key Terms

Refugee - “A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war or violence. A refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.” 1

Asylum-seeker - “An asylum-seeker is someone whose request for sanctuary has yet to be processed.” 2

Asylum - “Asylum is a legal process that allows someone who feels their life is in danger to seek refuge in safer countries.” 3

Xenophobia - “The fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or of anything that is strange or foreign.” 4

Resettled - “The transfer of refugees from an asylum country to another state that has agreed to admit them and ultimately grant them permanent settlement.” 5

Nationalism - Identification with one's own nation and support for its interests, especially to the exclusion or detriment of the interests of other nations. 6

Fearmongering - The action of deliberately arousing public fear or alarm about a particular issue. 7

Acculturation - Assimilation to a different culture, typically the dominant one. 8

Geneva Convention of 1951 - “The 1951 Geneva Convention is the main international instrument of refugee law. The Convention clearly spells out who a refugee is and the kind of legal protection, other assistance and social rights he or she should receive from the countries who have signed the document. The Convention also defines a refugee’s obligations to host governments and certain categories or people, such as war criminals, who do not qualify for refugee status.” 9

Refugee Act of 1980 - “The Refugee Act of 1980 created the Federal Refugee Resettlement Program to provide for the effective resettlement of refugees and to assist them to achieve economic self-sufficiency as quickly as possible after arrival in the United States.” 10

Context

Refugees are identified as people leaving their home countries in search of safety from persecution due to their religious, ethnic, or political identity. The number of refugees has been steadily increasing around the world, meaning more and more people are trying to find a place to resettle. In 2018, the forcibly displaced population worldwide reached a record high of 70.8 million—2.3 million more than in 2017. 11 Refugees make up about 25.9 million of the displaced population, 12 while the remainder are either asylum-seekers, those who are stateless, or internally displaced persons that have been forced to flee their homes but haven’t crossed an international border. 13 In 2019, it was estimated that refugees were driven from their homes at an average rate of 20 people per minute. 14 While the main cause for fleeing is persecution, refugees also leave due to war, climate change, and hunger. 15

The United States has been allowing those seeking haven into the country since its founding in 1776. 16 The Geneva Convention of 1951 became the primary resource for international legislation on refugees. The convention created a universal definition of refugee and outlined the legal protection refugees ought to receive. 17 The United States joined in the Geneva Convention in 1968 18 and became the leader in accepting refugees for resettlement in 1980 when the Refugee Act was passed. This changed in 2018, when the United States went from the global leader in accepting refugees to second behind Canada. In terms of refugee resettlement per capita the US resettlement rate is significantly lower than other countries, accepting about 70 refugees per million citizens. Canada leads with resettling 756 refugees for every 1 million citizens, followed by Australia, Sweden and Norway whose per capita rates are 510, 493, and 465, respectively. 19 In 2016, the United States accepted 85,000 refugees, whereas between 2017 and 2019 the United States only accepted 76,200. Then, in 2019, the United States accepted a mere 30,000 refugees. 20

There are two different populations that will be discussed in this brief: asylum-seekers and refugees. The biggest difference between the two populations is that an asylum-seeker is an individual who seeks international protection, but whose claim for refugee status has not yet been determined. 21 A refugee is someone who has fled their country of origin and cannot or will not return because of a well-founded fear. Although every refugee is initially an asylum-seeker, not every asylum-seeker becomes a refugee. 22 Those who have suddenly fled their home countries are left without homes as they go through this process. Refugees that have fled stay in refugee camps around the world, while asylum-seekers who are seeking refuge in the United States stay in detention centers in the US. When this brief discusses detention centers, the main focus is on the detention centers in the United States. However, refugee camps around the world where refugees temporarily reside as they wait for granted asylum are mentioned and discussed as well.

Reports of opinions in the United States on refugee allowance have fluctuated. This is partially dependent upon the wording of public surveys over the years. For example, US citizens reported in 2015 that they were much more likely to agree that the United States has a responsibility to accept refugees 23 than to agree to housing a refugee themselves. 24 The fluctuation in opinions also depends on where the refugees are from and the social and political climate of the time. Historically, the United States has usually been hesitant to allow large populations of refugees to enter the country, especially if those refugees came from countries that were enemies to the United States at the time. This remains true today, with many US citizens being wary of accepting large numbers of Middle Eastern refugees.

Most of the world's refugees come from the Middle East. In fact, two-thirds of refugees come from 5 countries: Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Somalia, and Myanmar—the first four being Middle Eastern countries. 25 The United States accepts the lowest number of Middle Eastern refugees, with Middle Eastern refugees making up less than 1% of the refugee population in America. Of resettled refugees in America, 51% are from Africa, 27% from the Asian-Pacific, 16% from Europe, and 4% from Central and Latin America. 26 Refugees from each region are fleeing for different reasons. For example, Syrians are fleeing their homes because of the Syrian Civil War that began in 2011, 27 and those in Venezuela are fleeing because of similar political and economic instability. 28 However, in Myanmar, the Rohingya are fleeing due to religious and ethic persecution against their minority group. 29

Contributing Factors

Due to the interconnected nature of this social issue’s contributing factors, it is difficult to distinguish any one line of causation. All these factors contribute to one another as well as to the decreased allowance of refugees into the USA. Administrative policies are influenced by public opinion, while public opinion is simultaneously affected by administrative policies. Political decisions are not only influenced by lawmakers, but by political parties, interest groups, and the media. 30 Though administrative policies are the most direct cause to decreased allowances, this brief would inadequately represent the issue if it did not address the mutually reinforcing relationship between many contributing factors.

Administrative Policies

Refugee allowance policies are limitations put into place by the government. These policies may shift due to new interpretations based on the cultural climate of the time or change as a reaction to emerging needs and situations. Currently, refugees are admitted into the United States through The Department of Homeland Security’s US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The process is conducted through a system of three different priorities for admission: Priority 1 cases are those that are facing serious security concerns. Priority 2 cases involve groups that are of special humanitarian concern to the United States. Priority 3 cases are family reunification cases. In the past, each priority held different weight, but currently there is not much difference among priorities. 31

Policy Interpretation

In order to be considered for resettlement into the United States, refugees have to meet 4 specifications:

An individual must meet the definition of a refugee.

An individual must not be firmly resettled in another country.

An individual must be determined to be of special humanitarian concern to the United States.

An individual must be admissible to the United States. 32

These specifications often prevent refugees from entering the country because they do not have the proof they need to be admitted, which creates a hurdle for refugees seeking protection in and admittance to the United States. Providing evidence that one meets these specifications is incredibly difficult, especially since many of them are undefined by US law. 33

Asylum is granted by individual judges whose own opinions and interpretations may affect the outcome of the case. In Los Angeles immigration cases in the past 5 years, two specific judges granted asylum for only 3% of the hundreds of cases they had received, whereas another judge granted asylum for 71% of the cases they handled. 34 In San Francisco, the judges’ individual asylum grant rates vary from 3% to 91%. Asylum cases depend heavily on the interpretation of individual judges because of a lack in clear-cut definitions. 35

Those fleeing from Central and South America were once considered refugees if they were seeking safety from gang violence or domestic violence. Article 1A(2) of the 1951 Convention (the controlling international convention on refugee law) outlines that members of a “particular social group” can be afforded protection. 36 In the past, those fleeing gang and domestic violence have been considered refugees under this description. However, in 2018, Attorney General Jeff Sessions stated that those who are fleeing for these reasons are no longer considered refugees under “membership in a particular social group.” 37 After this ruling, the grant rate for all asylum cases dropped from 40% in 2017 to 33% in 2019, which is the lowest rate in almost 20 years. 38 At only 20%, the grant rate for Central America specifically is even lower. 39

Policy Changes

Refugee policies have become stricter in recent years as it has become easier for people to migrate to other countries with the rise in commercial airplane service, global communication, and other innovations in world travel and communication. 40 Many countries have been struggling to regulate who enters, and some, such as the United States, have created stricter measures to manage their borders including more rigorous vetting processes, security enhancements, and more thorough investigation of applicants. 41 While these measures are intended “to keep out unauthorized entrants,” they simultaneously “prevent people in need of protection from reaching a country where they may seek safety.” 42

Each fiscal year (October 1st to September 30th), the President of the United States consults with Congress to set a cap on refugee admissions for the upcoming fiscal year. The refugee cap has changed widely over the years. In 1980, after the Refugee Act, the United States accepted 207,116 refugees into the United States, but that number decreased to 61,218 in 1983. In 1992, the refugee admittance went up again to 131,000, and then declined slightly through the next several years. After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the annual cap on refugee acceptance plummeted to 27,000. By 2017, the annual acceptances had surged back to approximately 75,000. Often, the United States does not even meet the cap, which means that the number of refugees allowed into the United States does not reach the number that was set in place for that year. The cap is now at an all time low of 18,000. 43 The Trump administration’s reason given for this is the backlog of those seeking asylum at the border of Mexico and the United States. 44 However, many refugee cases are evaluated before the refugee arrives in the United States, and in 2019, the United States processed over 30,000 refugee cases even while the number of asylum-seekers increased. 45 This indicates that the current low cap is not entirely motivated by the reasons presented by the government.

Public Opinion

Throughout the decades, public opinions on immigration have fluctuated. Because politicians consider the latest polls and prevailing sentiments when making political decisions, public opinion is reflected in the wildly different policies that have been implemented throughout the years. Currently, 60% of US citizens say that newcomers, in general, are a strength to American society, while about 33% of US citizens think that immigrants threaten traditional American values and customs. 46 Since refugees are from a different culture and race, they can be viewed as outsiders, which stigmatizes them as “others” and sparks xenophobic sentiments. 47 There are two major claims on which most fears of refugees are based: (1) refugees will negatively affect the US economy 48 and (2) refugees pose a threat to the safety of US citizens. 49

Although US citizens are concerned about refugees relying on welfare benefits—which are given for a period of 6 months to 2 years—refugees have not been shown to depend on them for extended periods of time. Instead, refugees utilize public benefits at the beginning of their resettlement, but after about 5 to 10 years become financially stable enough to no longer rely on these benefits. In fact, refugees are being employed in self-supporting jobs at a higher rate than native-born citizens. 50 A report from the Department of Health and Human Services showed a variety of statistics that demonstrated the boost refugees gave to the economy in 2016. The taxes collected from refugees amounted to $63 billion dollars more than the funds expended to integrate them into the United States. 51 A study focused in Colorado found that the employment rate among refugees was 17% during their first year living in the United States and 63.5% in their third year. 52 The US resettlement program takes the job market into account when determining where to send resettled refugees, taking precautions to ensure that there will be jobs already available for refugees rather than making them compete with native-born citizens for a limited number of jobs. 53

Although many US citizens are worried that refugees will threaten their safety, the data demonstrates that refugees are not dangerous and are generally law-abiding citizens. Out of the 859,629 refugees admitted since 2001, only three have been convicted of planning terrorist attacks; all three individuals were targeting locations outside of the United States and none of their plans were successfully implemented. 54 Between 2001 and 2015, 24 people died from acts of terrorism implemented by 5 foreign-born terrorists. In the same time period, 80 people died in terrorist attacks implemented by native-born US citizens or those with unknown nationalities. 55 Between 1975 and 2017, there were 192 foreign-born terrorists (a mix of visitors, foreign students, and others) who planned, attempted, or carried out an attack on US soil, compared to 788 native-born Americans who did so. 56 In spite of these facts, the percentage of US citizens who support accepting refugees into the United States has decreased by over 5% from 2017 to 2018, 57 and the House of Representatives passed a bill by a vote of 289-137 that erected substantial hurdles for refugees seeking asylum in 2015. 58

Media Portrayal

The media often portrays the refugee crisis, and refugees themselves, in a negative light. Negative media portrayals lead to increasingly negative public opinions of refugees and the supposed threats they pose to the country’s security and economy. Without sources from which US citizens can receive accurate information about their fears and questions, many adopt media-based perceptions of refugees as “enemies at the gate.” 59 In a recent study among high school students and college students, it was reported that over 70% of people had received little or no education about refugees in any of their classes. 60 This leaves room for the media to create the narrative. Some experts claim the reason for this media frenzy is the media platforms’ need to transform mundane news stories into major events for the purpose of appealing to the public and supporting more extreme political platforms. 61 Without information that properly fills in gaps, readers and watchers are left with extreme opinions, incomplete stories, and unanswered questions.

Consequences

Internment Housing

Because of the recent influx of refugees in the world and the decreased allowances of refugees into the United States, many countries have had to manage the overspill of individuals seeking asylum by placing them in detention centers and refugee camps. There is an important distinction that should be made when discussing detention centers in the United States and refugee camps worldwide. Those who are seeking asylum in the United States are often placed in detention centers—also referred to as Immigration Centers—if they have crossed the US-Mexico border. Once over the border, asylum-seekers are met with lengthy forms and temporary visas before they are granted entrance into the country. On the other hand, refugee camps are often located in intermediate countries, called “host” or “secondary” countries, after having passed through a series of other countries that either could not or would not grant them residence. This is where refugees fleeing their home countries will wait as they apply for resettlement status elsewhere in the world. 62 Though both refugee camps and detention centers have been created to help refugees undergoing this transitory state, they are not effective because of the large influx of refugees seeking asylum into the United States and the low numbers of refugees actually being granted asylum.

In 2013, US detention centers held about 34,000 individuals who had entered the country illegally, with each individual paying about $100 per night to use a bed. More recently, in 2018, detention centers were holding over 51,000 individuals, and the price of a bed had gone up to $133.99. 63 The detention centers in the United States are also known to be unsanitary, with expired food and broken bathroom fixtures. 64 This is true for refugee camps as well; for example, the United Nations (UN) has called for emergency measures to improve the unsafe, unsanitary, and overcrowded conditions in Greece refugee camps. 65

Neither detention centers nor refugee camps have the resources or means to keep up with the rise in the number of refugees. Michelle Bachlett, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said she felt shocked when she saw the state of the detention centers. In these centers the children often sleep on the floor, many do not have access to adequate healthcare or food, and sanitation conditions are poor. 66 Detention centers harm the mental and physical health of refugees and make this difficult process even more traumatic. 67

Family Separation

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued the 2017 United States Administration in February 2019 because of the zero tolerance policy passed on April 6th, 2018, allowing for children to be separated from their families at the border. 68 Trump administration policies caused at least 2,654 children to be separated from their families. 69 Although President Donald Trump signed an executive order intended to keep migrant families together after the initial public outcry over the original policy, 70 there are still children that have not been reunited with their families. 71 Unfortunately, exact data regarding the numbers of children who remain separated from their families does not exist, as the Department of Homeland Security has stated that they struggle to provide accurate, complete, and reliable data on family separations. 72

In addition to the controversial zero tolerance policy, other recent policies have perpetuated the separation of individuals from their loved ones. The Trump travel ban was an executive order signed by President Donald Trump in 2017 that halted all refugee admissions for 4 months; barred those seeking visas from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen; and enacted other orders that affected those seeking visas. 73 Since its original enactment, the travel ban has been broadened to include four more countries—Nigeria, Myanmar (also known as Burma), Eritrea, and Kyrgyzstan. This new addition to the travel ban went into effect on February 22, 2020. 74 The Trump administration said the purpose of these bans was for safety, but they have not provided accurate evidence of safety concerns. This travel ban has kept families separated where individuals cannot receive visas to reunite with their loved ones in the United States. 75

Perpetuated Mental Health Problems

The current US policies are making it more difficult for refugees to reach permanent asylum status, so they are often left with temporary visas or prolonged stays in detention centers or refugee camps. In a study looking at the impact of temporary protection status and detention centers on refugee mental health—specifically measuring depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and mental health-related disability—researchers found a drastic difference between the mental health of permanent versus temporary residents. 76 Temporary residents were 50% more likely than permanent refugee residents to report moderate to severe mental illness. After refugees were in detention for more than 6 months, their diagnoses for mental illness increased by 30%. 77 Since the United States is accepting fewer and fewer refugees, the refugees are more likely to be kept in dangerous situations that put them at greater risk of mental health problems.

Perpetuated mental health problems may originate from a variety of different avenues and many occur before individuals reach the detention centers and refugee camps. Some refugees and asylum-seekers were subjected to trauma in the form of rape, war, chronic fear, and malnutrition, even before they left their homes. 78 Additionally, many refugees may have experienced or witnessed family separation, theft, torture, or killing while fleeing their homes and making the journey towards asylum. 79 Not only do the conditions of refugee camps and detention centers produce trauma, but they may also amplify preexisting trauma as refugees must stay for long periods of time without encouragement or professional guidance to help them process their traumas. 80

Family separation has also caused negative mental health among adolescents. The President of the American Academy of Pediatrics said, “Separating parents from their kids contradicts everything we know about children's welfare.” 81 The stress of being separated from family has very negative effects on children's mental and emotional well-being, especially after the trauma of fleeing their homes.” 82 Children’s mental well-being is permanently affected by being separated from their parents at the border.

Practices

This issue stems largely from administrative policy, something that is nearly impossible for specific organizations to influence due to the complex nature of politics in the United States. Because of this, these practices focus on addressing the contributing factors and consequences of the issue rather than the issue itself. Additionally, many of these organizations do not have thorough impact data, also likely due to the political nature of this issue and the practices that surround it.

Proper Education

Educating US citizens on the refugee crisis can help overcome stigmas in the public perception. With the refugee population growing, educators need to learn how to teach their students what refugees are dealing with in order to correct the stigma that refugees are dangerous. The belief that many asylum-seekers and refugees are terrorists has caused the word “asylum-seeker” to be viewed negatively. 83 One of the best ways to overcome this incorrect association is to teach children accurate information about refugees from a young age. This practice builds a base for future innovation and the creation of appropriate policies that can help both the refugees and the United States. 84 Constructing a positive image of refugee children already in schools instead of labeling them is a huge step toward creating a more accurate perception of refugees. 85

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees USA (UNHCR USA) is an organization that creates easy presentations and lesson outlines to help teachers explain refugees to children of all ages. 86 There are several free resources that UNHCR provides, as well as sources from NGOs, government organizations, and other organizations. Their first topic is “Words Matter.” The word “refugee” is a blanket term that encompasses any person that has been displaced because of war, violence, or persecution. However, each displaced person's situation is different, so understanding what different categories mean will aid in a better understanding of refugees and their needs. The second topic tackles the facts and figures of the refugee crisis, specifically regarding where refugees are coming from, how many displaced people there are worldwide, and other key points. UNHCR provides this data in clear notes and fact sheets for teachers to use. UNHCR also provides reports that help teachers find accurate media about refugees.

Many modern classrooms contain children from refugee or asylum-seeking families. UNHCR helps teachers understand that these children need help acclimating to a new environment. Teachers can help these children understand US culture while remaining sensitive to these children’s needs; many have experienced stress or trauma that may require additional attention. They can make it easier for refugees transitioning into a new culture, as well as spawn understanding and empathy in young native-born US citizens.

Impact

UNHCR is a large organization that has many different programs that provide help for refugees across the world. While they cannot measure their direct impact on administrative policies for decreased allowances, they do measure other outputs. UNHCR has 7.1 million refugee children of school age under their mandate. These refugees want to learn and continue their education. UNHCR values education because it ends the repetitive cycle of poverty. As stated in their 2019 Education Report, “[Education] creates conditions in which refugee children and youth can learn, thrive and develop their potential in peaceful coexistence with each other, and with local children. In a world in which conflict appears to come more easily than peace, these are invaluable lessons.” Because of UNHCR’s educational pursuits, more refugees are starting to reach secondary education. Refugee enrollment in primary school is up from 61% to 63%, while secondary level enrollment has risen from 23% to 24%. In addition, the percentage of refugees accessing higher education has increased from 1% to 3%. 87 With refugees receiving higher education, they are able to become the world’s next leaders, amplifying their voices and enabling lasting change in refugee policy.

Gaps

The UNHCR educational initiative is still in its infancy, and because it is an initiative for the whole world, impact data is hard to find for just the United States. It is also unclear whether UNHCR or the teachers and schools themselves have caused the positive interactions and environments at school. Additionally, refugee enrollment for higher education levels have been increasing, but it is not clear whether this is because of UNHCR’s influence.

Government Policy Advocacy

Public opinion strongly influences administrative policies, as mentioned previously. In order for policies to change, public opinion has to change. Citizens need a way to be informed and educated and then given the resources to use their opinions for good.

Refugee Council USA (RCUSA) is a collection of over 20 nonprofits that work on creating and providing “diverse coalition advocating for just and humane laws and policies, promoting dialogue and communication among government, civil society, and those who need protection and welcome.” 88 They do this through 3 main avenues: enhancing the voices of individuals and organizations that are speaking words of welcome, advocating for rights and durable solutions for those that are forcibly replaced, and building excellence in US refugee resettlement and integration efforts. They also report on what current policies are doing to refugees. 89 Refugee Council USA delivers information in four different ways. First, every couple of months, Refugee Council USA will write about advocates across the United States. Second, they keep readers updated on current events and stories about refugees and policies. Third, they have informationals and toolkits that provide information on a variety of issues such as refugee rights and the process of resettlement under the most recent policies. Lastly, they report on the integration outcomes of refugees. 90

One of the non-profits that contribute to Refugee Council USA is Refugee Congress. Refugee Congress is an advocacy organization made up of former refugees, asylum-seekers, and immigrants whose goal is to “promote the well-being, integration and dignity of all vulnerable migrants.” 91 They have delegates across all 50 states who work at the community level to inform and influence decision-makers on domestic and international issues. They work to change government policies from the bottom up.

Impact

Refugee Council USA has done quite a lot to help educate people on government policies. They are educating individuals, who in turn can be advocates by getting involved in their local politics and influencing decision-makers at the local level, much like Refugee Congress. Through this education, the impact that RCUSA has presented is the change that they have made in the lives of those who work or volunteer for them. 92 Currently, they have around 95,000 advocates around the United States who work on getting involved in their local politics and influencing those around them. They are constantly updating their social media, which reaches over 300 followers, helping them influence people all around the United States.

Gaps

It is difficult to measure the direct impact a certain organization has on administrative policies due to the multi-faceted processes of lobbying and advocating for policy. Thus, there are many different gaps that can be seen both in the effectiveness of the policy on making direct governmental change and also in the recording of data in a qualitative manner that can be used for proper impact evaluation. Additionally, RCUSA’s reports focus mostly on what the government is doing wrong, rather than what positive changes have been made due to the organization’s efforts. 93 As a result, their reports are less on the impact they are making and more on the negative impacts US policies have on refugees. They have reports on the integration outcomes in the United States in 2016, but not on what they did as an organization to help them integrate.

Immigration Lawyers

Immigration lawyers play a huge role in the number of refugees allowed into the United States. Typically, an immigration lawyer is an advisor and counselor to refugees that are attempting to navigate the immigration process of filling out visa applications, applying for citizenship, or dealing with issues of deportation or other complications. 94 Immigration lawyers help by providing free consultations for refugees so that they are prepared to present their cases before immigration judges.

Fragomen Worldwide is a law firm that works in many major cities in the United States, including Chicago, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Miami, and Washington, D.C.. The expansive firm works on helping refugees at any stage to receive the information necessary to successfully present their cases to immigration judges . They are rated the top immigration law firm in the United States. Though Fragomen started in 1951 as a domestic US immigration law firm, the corporation now provides assistance for refugees globally. In addition to assisting with cases, they provide representation and advice to those trying to receive citizenship, visas, or job opportunities. 95

Impact

Since 2015, Fragomen Worldwide has sent over 60 volunteers to the South Texas Family Residential Center, a detention center in Dilley, Texas that houses around 2,200 women and children. For a week, immigration lawyers provide advice and counseling to those struggling to receive the documentation and information needed to receive resettlement. 96 Fragomen has partnered with New York City Bar Justice Center to support the City Bar’s Immigrant Justice Project. This project assists asylum-seekers fleeing persecution in their countries of origin by matching them with lawyers who will work pro bono to provide them with mentoring, training, and guidance throughout their cases. 97 Fragomen does provide a lot of data analytics and impact reports on immigration issues to inform the world of what is going on in the immigration sector. 98

Gaps

Since Fragomen is a privately owned, corporate organization, they are not required to provide impact statistics, but they have built a positive reputation and sizable money reserves. There are so many different immigration lawyers with unique practices and methods so it is impossible to outline their progress and impact as one whole. Fragomen Worldwide has not published what number of people they have successfully helped through the resettlement process, so it is hard to know what impact they have had on refugees. There is no representation of how many people they have helped in the detention center in Dilley, Texas either. Finally, this brief has outlined just one immigration law firm in the United States while immigration law is a very diverse practice with many differences among individual firms.

Key Takeaways

  • The number of people fleeing from their homes and seeking help is increasing.
  • The United States is decreasing the amount of refugees they will accept. The new administrative policy will only allow 18,000 refugees into the United States annually, which decreases the previous amount by more than half.
  • Although there is a lot of media and propaganda equating refugees with terrorists, no terrorist acts have been undertaken by a resettled refugee.
  • Refugees are not a handicap to society, but provide for themselves and their families in a legal and profitable way.
  • Refugee camps and detention centers are becoming increasingly overcrowded, refugee camps are not able to hold as many refugees as need a place, and refugees are waiting over 3 months for a court hearing to see if they are granted asylum.
  • Due to the complex nature of impacting administrative policies, it is hard for individual practices and organizations to have much of an impact on this issue.
by Chloe Vincent



Volume 2

EDUCATION
IMMIGRATION
GOVERNMENT
PUBLIC POLICY
POLITICS
UNITED STATES
REFUGEES
1
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1 Michelle Hackman and Andrew Restuccia, “Trump Administration to Reduce Cap on Refugees Allowed Into U.S. to Record-Low 18,000,” The Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones & Company, September 27, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-administration-to-reduce-cap-on-refugees-allowed-into-u-s-to-record-low-18-000-11569533121.

2 “What Is a Refugee?,” USA for UNHCR, accessed April 11, 2020, http://www.unrefugees.org/refugee-facts/what-is-a-refugee/.

3 “Asylum-Seekers,” UNHCR, accessed March 21, 2020, https://www.unhcr.org/en-us/asylum-seekers.html.

4 Zachary Mueller, “Immigration 101: What Is Asylum?,” America's Voice, updated February 10, 2020, https://americasvoice.org/blog/immigration-101-asylum/.

5 “Xenophobia,” Merriam-Webster, accessed November 19, 2019, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/xenophobia.

6 “Resettlement,” UNHCR, accessed August 17, 2020, http://www.unhcr.org/en-us/resettlement.html.

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9 “Acculturation,” Lexico Dictionaries, Oxford, accessed December 18, 2019, https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/acculturation.

10 “What Is a Refugee?” USA for UNHCR, accessed April 11, 2020, https://www.unrefugees.org/refugee-facts/what-is-a-refugee/.

11 “The Refugee Act,” Office of Refugee Resettlement, ACF, August 29, 2012, https://www.acf.hhs.gov/orr/resource/the-refugee-act.

12 “Global Trends: Forced Displacement in 2018,” UNHCR, 2019, https://www.unhcr.org/globaltrends2018/.

13 Refugee Statistics,” USA for UNHCR, accessed November 18, 2019, https://www.unrefugees.org/refugee-facts/statistics/.

14 “What Is a Refugee?,” USA for UNHCR, accessed April 11, 2020, https://www.unrefugees.org/refugee-facts/what-is-a-refugee/.

15 Andrew Edwards, “Forced Displacement Worldwide at Its Highest in Decades,” USA for UNHCR, June 20, 2017, https://www.unrefugees.org/news/forced-displacement-worldwide-at-its-highest-in-decades/.

16 “Global Trends: Forced Displacement in 2018,” UNHCR, 2019, https://www.unhcr.org/globaltrends2018/.

17 “Immigrants as Economic Contributors: Refugees Are a Fiscal Success Story for America,” National Immigration Forum, June 14, 2018, https://immigrationforum.org/article/immigrants-as-economic-contributors-refugees-are-a-fiscal-success-story-for-america/.

18 “What Is a Refugee?,” USA for UNHCR, accessed April 11, 2020, https://www.unrefugees.org/refugee-facts/what-is-a-refugee/.

19 “An Overview of U.S. Refugee Law and Policy,” American Immigration Council, April 1, 2020, https://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/research/overview-us-refugee-law-and-policy.

20 Jynnah Radford and Phillip Connor, “Canada Now Leads the World in Refugee Resettlement, Surpassing the U.S.,” Pew Research Center, June 19, 2019, https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/06/19/canada-now-leads-the-world-in-refugee-resettlement-surpassing-the-u-s/.

21 Jens Manuel Krogstad, “Key Facts about Refugees to the U.S.,” Pew Research Center, October 7, 2019, https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/10/07/key-facts-about-refugees-to-the-u-s/.

22 Janet Phillips, “Asylum Seekers and Refugees: What Are the Facts?,” Parliament of Australia, updated March 02, 2015, https://www.aph.gov.au/about_parliament/parliamentary_departments/parliamentary_library/pubs/rp/rp1415/asylumfacts.

23 “What's the Difference between a Refugee and an Asylum Seeker?,” Amnesty International Australia, June 19, 2019, https://www.amnesty.org.au/refugee-and-an-asylum-seeker-difference/.

24 Drew DeSilver, “US Public Often Hasn't Wanted Refugees Admitted,” Pew Research Center, November 19, 2015, https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/11/19/u-s-public-seldom-has-welcomed-refugees-into-country/.

25 Hannah Hartig, “GOP Views of Accepting Refugees to US Turn More Negative as Admissions Plummet,” Pew Research Center, May 24, 2018, https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/05/24/republicans-turn-more-negative-toward-refugees-as-number-admitted-to-u-s-plummets/.

26 Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, s.v. “Middle East,” accessed August 18, 2020, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Middle%20East.

27 Jynnah Radford and Phillip Connor, “Canada Now Leads the World in Refugee Resettlement, Surpassing the U.S.,” Pew Research Center, June 19, 2019, https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/06/19/canada-now-leads-the-world-in-refugee-resettlement-surpassing-the-u-s/.

28 Kathryn Reid, “Syrian Refugee Crisis: Facts, FAQs, and How to Help,” World Vision, March 10, 2020, https://www.worldvision.org/refugees-news-stories/syrian-refugee-crisis-facts.

29 Kathryn Reid, “Forced to Flee: Top Countries Refugees Are Coming From,” World Vision, February 26, 2020, https://www.worldvision.org/refugees-news-stories/forced-to-flee-top-countries-refugees-coming-from.

30 A. K. M. Ahsan Ullah, "Rohingya Crisis in Myanmar: Seeking Justice for the ‘Stateless’," Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice 32, no. 3 (2016): 285–301, http://doi.org/10.1177/1043986216660811.

31 “Policy Making: Political Interactions,” ushistory.org, Independence Hall Association, accessed February 8, 2020, https://www.ushistory.org/gov/11.asp.

32 Kristie De Peña and Matthew La Corte, “The Devil Is in the Details: Digging Deeper into 2020 Refugee Resettlement Changes,” Niskanen Center, December 9, 2019, https://www.niskanencenter.org/the-devil-is-in-the-details-digging-deeper-into-2020-refugee-resettlement-changes/.

33 Bruno, Andorra. “Refugee Admissions and Resettlement Policy,” Congressional Research Service, December 18, 2018, https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RL31269.pdf.

34 Linda Dale Bevis, “Political Opinions of Refugees: Interpreting International Sources,” Washington Law Review 63, no. 1 (1988): 395, https://heinonline.org/HOL/LandingPage?handle=hein.journals%2Fwashlr63&div=23&id=&page=

35 David G. Savage, “Immigration Courts Are Deeply Split on Who Can Claim Asylum over Violence in Home Countries,” Los Angeles Times, May 06, 2018, https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-asylum-law-20180506-story.html.

36 Ibid.

37 “Asylum & the Rights of Refugees,” International Justice Resource Center, accessed February 27, 2020, https://ijrcenter.org/refugee-law/.

38 “Attorney General's Asylum Decision Undermines All People Seeking Protection,” Refugee Council USA, June 12, 2018, https://rcusa.org/resources/attorney-generals-asylum-decision-undermines-all-people-seeking-protection/.

39 “Asylum Decisions and Denials Jump in 2018,” TRAC Immigration, November 29, 2018, https://trac.syr.edu/immigration/reports/539/.

40 Laura Gottesdiener and John Washington, “They're Refugees, Fleeing Gang Violence and Domestic Abuse. Why Won't the Trump Administration Let Them In?,” The Nation, November 28, 2018, https://www.thenation.com/article/archive/trump-asylum-gangs-domestic-violence/.

41 “An Overview of U.S. Refugee Law and Policy,” American Immigration Council, April 1, 2020, https://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/research/overview-us-refugee-law-and-policy.

42 Ibid.

43 UNHCR, “The Changing Dynamics of Displacement,” in The State of The World's Refugees 2000 (UNHCR, January 01, 2000), http://www.unhcr.org/3ebf9bb80.html.

44 “U.S. Annual Refugee Resettlement Ceilings and Number of Refugees Admitted, 1980–Present,” Migration Policy Institute, October 18, 2019, https://www.migrationpolicy.org/programs/data-hub/charts/us-annual-refugee-resettlement-ceilings-and-number-refugees-admitted-united.

45 Michael D. Shear and Zolan Kanno-Youngs, “Trump Slashes Refugee Cap to 18,000, Curtailing U.S. Role as Haven,” The New York Times, September 26, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/26/us/politics/trump-refugees.html.

46 Ibid.

47 Alex Vandermaas-Peeler, Daniel Cox, Maxine Najle, Molly Fisch-Friedman, Rob Griffin, and Robert P. Jones, “Partisan Polarization Dominates Trump Era: Findings from the 2018 American Values Survey,” PRRI, October 29, 2018, https://www.prri.org/research/partisan-polarization-dominates-trump-era-findings-from-the-2018-american-values-survey/.

48 Ibid.

49 Ismail Hakki Yigit and Andrew Tatch, “Syrian Refugees and Americans: Perceptions, Attitudes and Insights,” American Journal of Qualitative Research 1, no. 1 (December 2017): 13–31, http://www.ejecs.org/index.php/AJQR/article/view/172/115.

50 Thomson Reuters "Do You Think Taking in Refugees from Syria Makes the Host Country More or Less Safe from Terrorism, or Does it Make No Difference?," Statista, March 31, 2016, accessed August 17, 2020, https://www.statista.com/statistics/531393/us-opinion-poll-on-whether-helping-syrian-refugees-makes-the-host-country-safer-by-party-affiliation/.

51 Randy Capps and Michael Fix, “Ten Facts about U.S. Refugee Resettlement ,” Migration Policy Institute, October 2015, https://iimn.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Migration-Policy-Institute-Fact-Sheet.pdf.https://iimn.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Migration-Policy-Institute-Fact-Sheet.pdf.

52 Julie Davis and Somini Sengupta, “Rejected Report Shows Revenue Brought In by Refugees,” The New York Times, September 19, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/09/19/us/politics/document-Refugee-Report.html.

53 Ibid.

54 Nathan Brown, “Are Refugees Stealing Jobs?,” Twin Falls Times, August 28, 2016, https://magicvalley.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/are-refugees-stealing-jobs/article_d17a14bf-c4d7-5153-8a33-eec12b56bcc2.html.

55 Alex Nowrasteh, “Syrian Refugees Don't Pose a Serious Security Threat,” Cato Institute, November 18, 2015, https://www.cato.org/blog/syrian-refugees-dont-pose-serious-security-threat.

56 Alex Nowrasteh, “Terrorism and Immigration: A Risk Analysis,” Cato Institute, September 13, 2016, https://www.cato.org/publications/policy-analysis/terrorism-immigration-risk-analysis.

57 Ibid.

58 Hannah Hartig, “GOP Views of Accepting Refugees to US Turn More Negative as Admissions Plummet,” Pew Research Center, May 24, 2018, https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/05/24/republicans-turn-more-negative-toward-refugees-as-number-admitted-to-u-s-plummets/.

59 Hanna Kozlowska, “The US House of Representatives Just Voted to Fence out Syrian Refugees,” Quartz, November 20, 2015, https://qz.com/554738/the-us-congress-just-voted-to-fence-out-syrian-refugees/.

60 University of Western Ontario, “Study Shows Media Play Role in Dehumanizing Immigrants and Refugees,” Phys.org, September 23, 2013, https://phys.org/news/2013-09-media-role-dehumanizing-immigrants-refugees.html.

61 James Adam Cambell, “Attitudes towards Refugee Education and Its Link to Xenophobia in the United States,” Intercultural Education 28, no.5 (2017): 474–479, https://doi.org/10.1080/14675986.2017.1336374.

62 Victoria M. Esses, Stelian Medianu, and Andrea S. Lawson, “Uncertainty, Threat, and the Role of the Media in Promoting the Dehumanization of Immigrants and Refugees,” Journal of Social Issues 69, no. 3 (September 2013): 518–536, https://doi.org/10.1111/josi.12027.

63 “What Is a Refugee Camp?,” USA for UNHCR, accessed April 24, 2020, https://www.unrefugees.org/refugee-facts/camps/.

64 “U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Budget Overview,” Department of Homeland Security, 2018, https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/ICE%20FY18%20Budget.pdf.

65 “Life Inside U.S. Migrant Detention Centers,” WBUR, updated June 20, 2019, https://www.wbur.org/onpoint/2019/06/20/immigrant-detention-centers-us-mexico-border.

66 Mélissa Godin, “UN Calls For 'Emergency Measures' In Greek Refugee Camps,” Time, February 11, 2020, https://time.com/5781936/lesbos-greece-refugee-camps-dangerous/.

67 “UN Rights Chief 'Appalled' by US Border Detention Conditions, Says Holding Migrant Children May Violate International Law,” UN News, July 8, 2019, https://news.un.org/en/story/2019/07/1041991.

68 Madeleine Joung, “What Is Happening at Migrant Detention Centers? What to Know,” Time, July 12, 2019, https://time.com/5623148/migrant-detention-centers-conditions/.

69 ACLU, “Family Separation by the Numbers,” American Civil Liberties Union, October 2, 2018, https://www.aclu.org/issues/immigrants-rights/immigrants-rights-and-detention/family-separation.

70 “Family Separation,” American Civil Liberties Union, accessed August 18, 2020, https://www.aclu.org/issues/immigrants-rights/immigrants-rights-and-detention/family-separation.

71 Christina Wilkie, “Trump Signs Order That He Says Will Keep Migrant Families Together,” CNBC, June 20, 2018, https://www.cnbc.com/2018/06/20/trump-says-hes-going-to-sign-a-preemptive-measure-to-keep-migrant-families-together.html.

72 Madeleine Joung, “What Is Happening at Migrant Detention Centers? What to Know,” Time, July 12, 2019, https://time.com/5623148/migrant-detention-centers-conditions/.

73 “Family Separation by the Numbers,” American Civil Liberties Union, October 2, 2018, https://www.aclu.org/issues/immigrants-rights/immigrants-rights-and-detention/family-separation.

74 “Full Text of Trump's Executive Order on 7-Nation Ban, Refugee Suspension,” CNN, January 28, 2017, https://www.cnn.com/2017/01/28/politics/text-of-trump-executive-order-nation-ban-refugees/index.html.

75 Caitlin Oprysko, Anita Kumar, and Nahal Toosi, “Trump Administration Expands Travel Ban,” Politico, January 1, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/01/31/trump-administration-expands-travel-ban-110005.

76 “Refugees in America,” International Rescue Committee, accessed August 17, 2020, https://www.rescue.org/topic/refugees-america.

77 Zachary Steel, Derrick Silove, Robert Brooks, Shakeh Momartin, Bushra Alzuhairi, and Ina Susljik, “Impact of Immigration Detention and Temporary Protection on the Mental Health of Refugees,” British Journal of Psychiatry 188, no. 1 (January 2006): 58–64, https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry/article/impact-of-immigration-detention-and-temporary-protection-on-the-mental-health-of-refugees/B6914BF421D202CE4474C5F757BC541E/core-reader.

78 Ibid.

79 Ellen Heptinstall, Vaheshta Sethna, and Eric Taylor, "PTSD and Depression in Refugee Children," European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry 13, no. 6 (2004): 373–380, http://doi.org/10.1007/s00787-004-0422-y.

80 G. Juneau and Neal S. Rubin, "A First Person Account of the Refugee Experience: Identifying Psychosocial Stressors and Formulating Psychological Responses," Psychology International 25, no. 4 (2014): 7–11.

81 Lloy Wylie, Rita Van Meyel, Heather Harder, Javeed Sukhera, Cathy Luc, Hooman Ganjavi, Mohamad Elfakhani, and Nancy Wardrop, "Assessing Trauma in a Transcultural Context: Challenges in Mental Health Care with Immigrants and Refugees," Public Health Reviews 39, no. 1 (2018): 1–19, https://doi.org/10.1186/s40985-018-0102-y.

82 Shruti Simha, “The Impact of Family Separation on Immigrant and Refugee Families,” North Carolina Medical Journal 80, no. 2 (March 2019): 95–96, https://doi.org/10.18043/ncm.80.2.95.

83 “InBrief: The Science of Early Childhood Development,” Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, 2007, https://developingchild.harvard.edu/resources/inbrief-science-of-ecd/.

84 Zygumt Bauman, Wasted Lives: Modernity and Its Outcasts, (Cambridge, UK and Malden, MA: Polity, 2004).

85 Julie Kasper, “When the Nation Closes Its Doors to Refugees, Schools Can Open Them,” The Hechinger Report, October 21, 2018, https://hechingerreport.org/teacher-voice-when-the-nation-closes-its-doors-to-refugees-schools-can-open-them/.

86 Halleli Pinson and Madeleine Arnot, “Local Conceptualisations of the Education of Asylum—Seeking and Refugee Students: from Hostile to Holistic Models,” International Journal of Inclusive Education 14, no, 3 (2010): 247–267, https://doi.org/10.1080/13603110802504523.

87 “Teaching about Refugees,” UNHCR, accessed March 21, 2020, https://www.unhcr.org/en-us/teaching-about-refugees.html.

88 “Stepping Up: Refugee Education in Crisis,” UNHCR, accessed April 11, 2020, https://www.unhcr.org/en-us/5d651cbd4.

89 “About,” Refugee Council USA, accessed November 18, 2019, https://rcusa.org/about/.

90 “Refugee Council USA Releases Comprehensive Report on the Harmful Impact of Drastic Refugee Resettlement Cuts,” Refugee Council USA, June 12, 2019, https://rcusa.org/resources/refugee-council-usa-releases-comprehensive-report-on-the-harmful-impact-of-drastic-refugee-resettlement-cuts/.

91 “Resources,” Refugee Council USA, accessed August 17, 2020, https://rcusa.org/resources.

92 “About Refugee Congress,” Refugee Congress, January 2020, http://refugeecongress.org/about-refugee-congress/.

93 Danielle Grigsby, “RCUSA Monthly Report Card: July,” Refugee Council USA, August 3, 2018, https://rcusa.org/resources/rcusa-monthly-report-card-july/.

94 Danielle Grigsby, “RCUSA FY18 Year in Review: Report Card,” Refugee Council USA, October 10, 2018, https://rcusa.org/resources/rcusa-fy18-year-in-review-report-card-2/.

95 Ken LaMance, “The Role of Immigration Lawyers,” LegalMatch Law Library, June 24, 2018, https://www.legalmatch.com/law-library/article/the-role-of-immigration-lawyers.html.

96 “About,” Fragomen, accessed August 17, 2020, https://www.fragomen.com/about.

97 Fragomen News, “Fragomen Sends Pro Bono Teams to Assist Detained Immigrant Families at Border,” Fragomen, September 20, 2018, https://www.fragomen.com/about/news/fragomen-sends-pro-bono-teams-assist-detained-immigrant-families-border.

98 Fragomen News, “Making a Difference in Immigration with Pro Bono Partnerships,” Fragomen, April 19, 2019, https://www.fragomen.com/about/news/making-difference-immigration-pro-bono-partnerships.

99 “Blog,” Fragomen, accessed August 17, 2020, https://www.fragomen.com/insights/blog.

Your Comments

Decreased Allowance of Refugees in the United States

Summary

While the number of individuals who have been forcibly displaced (which includes refugees, internally displaced people, and asylum-seekers) has increased to an estimated 70.8 million people, the number of refugees allowed into the United States annually has decreased to 18,000.~f This leads to overpopulated detention centers, family separation, and perpetuated mental health problems. This decreased allowance has stemmed from a progression of cultural influences—especially media portrayals—that affected public opinion and contributed to administrative policies. Some practices to resolve this have been efforts to reform policy, provide asylum-seekers with proper legal counsel, and educate the public on the truth of refugee resettlement in the United States.

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Key Terms

Refugee - “A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war or violence. A refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.” 1

Asylum-seeker - “An asylum-seeker is someone whose request for sanctuary has yet to be processed.” 2

Asylum - “Asylum is a legal process that allows someone who feels their life is in danger to seek refuge in safer countries.” 3

Xenophobia - “The fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or of anything that is strange or foreign.” 4

Resettled - “The transfer of refugees from an asylum country to another state that has agreed to admit them and ultimately grant them permanent settlement.” 5

Nationalism - Identification with one's own nation and support for its interests, especially to the exclusion or detriment of the interests of other nations. 6

Fearmongering - The action of deliberately arousing public fear or alarm about a particular issue. 7

Acculturation - Assimilation to a different culture, typically the dominant one. 8

Geneva Convention of 1951 - “The 1951 Geneva Convention is the main international instrument of refugee law. The Convention clearly spells out who a refugee is and the kind of legal protection, other assistance and social rights he or she should receive from the countries who have signed the document. The Convention also defines a refugee’s obligations to host governments and certain categories or people, such as war criminals, who do not qualify for refugee status.” 9

Refugee Act of 1980 - “The Refugee Act of 1980 created the Federal Refugee Resettlement Program to provide for the effective resettlement of refugees and to assist them to achieve economic self-sufficiency as quickly as possible after arrival in the United States.” 10

Context

Refugees are identified as people leaving their home countries in search of safety from persecution due to their religious, ethnic, or political identity. The number of refugees has been steadily increasing around the world, meaning more and more people are trying to find a place to resettle. In 2018, the forcibly displaced population worldwide reached a record high of 70.8 million—2.3 million more than in 2017. 11 Refugees make up about 25.9 million of the displaced population, 12 while the remainder are either asylum-seekers, those who are stateless, or internally displaced persons that have been forced to flee their homes but haven’t crossed an international border. 13 In 2019, it was estimated that refugees were driven from their homes at an average rate of 20 people per minute. 14 While the main cause for fleeing is persecution, refugees also leave due to war, climate change, and hunger. 15

The United States has been allowing those seeking haven into the country since its founding in 1776. 16 The Geneva Convention of 1951 became the primary resource for international legislation on refugees. The convention created a universal definition of refugee and outlined the legal protection refugees ought to receive. 17 The United States joined in the Geneva Convention in 1968 18 and became the leader in accepting refugees for resettlement in 1980 when the Refugee Act was passed. This changed in 2018, when the United States went from the global leader in accepting refugees to second behind Canada. In terms of refugee resettlement per capita the US resettlement rate is significantly lower than other countries, accepting about 70 refugees per million citizens. Canada leads with resettling 756 refugees for every 1 million citizens, followed by Australia, Sweden and Norway whose per capita rates are 510, 493, and 465, respectively. 19 In 2016, the United States accepted 85,000 refugees, whereas between 2017 and 2019 the United States only accepted 76,200. Then, in 2019, the United States accepted a mere 30,000 refugees. 20

There are two different populations that will be discussed in this brief: asylum-seekers and refugees. The biggest difference between the two populations is that an asylum-seeker is an individual who seeks international protection, but whose claim for refugee status has not yet been determined. 21 A refugee is someone who has fled their country of origin and cannot or will not return because of a well-founded fear. Although every refugee is initially an asylum-seeker, not every asylum-seeker becomes a refugee. 22 Those who have suddenly fled their home countries are left without homes as they go through this process. Refugees that have fled stay in refugee camps around the world, while asylum-seekers who are seeking refuge in the United States stay in detention centers in the US. When this brief discusses detention centers, the main focus is on the detention centers in the United States. However, refugee camps around the world where refugees temporarily reside as they wait for granted asylum are mentioned and discussed as well.

Reports of opinions in the United States on refugee allowance have fluctuated. This is partially dependent upon the wording of public surveys over the years. For example, US citizens reported in 2015 that they were much more likely to agree that the United States has a responsibility to accept refugees 23 than to agree to housing a refugee themselves. 24 The fluctuation in opinions also depends on where the refugees are from and the social and political climate of the time. Historically, the United States has usually been hesitant to allow large populations of refugees to enter the country, especially if those refugees came from countries that were enemies to the United States at the time. This remains true today, with many US citizens being wary of accepting large numbers of Middle Eastern refugees.

Most of the world's refugees come from the Middle East. In fact, two-thirds of refugees come from 5 countries: Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Somalia, and Myanmar—the first four being Middle Eastern countries. 25 The United States accepts the lowest number of Middle Eastern refugees, with Middle Eastern refugees making up less than 1% of the refugee population in America. Of resettled refugees in America, 51% are from Africa, 27% from the Asian-Pacific, 16% from Europe, and 4% from Central and Latin America. 26 Refugees from each region are fleeing for different reasons. For example, Syrians are fleeing their homes because of the Syrian Civil War that began in 2011, 27 and those in Venezuela are fleeing because of similar political and economic instability. 28 However, in Myanmar, the Rohingya are fleeing due to religious and ethic persecution against their minority group. 29

Contributing Factors

Due to the interconnected nature of this social issue’s contributing factors, it is difficult to distinguish any one line of causation. All these factors contribute to one another as well as to the decreased allowance of refugees into the USA. Administrative policies are influenced by public opinion, while public opinion is simultaneously affected by administrative policies. Political decisions are not only influenced by lawmakers, but by political parties, interest groups, and the media. 30 Though administrative policies are the most direct cause to decreased allowances, this brief would inadequately represent the issue if it did not address the mutually reinforcing relationship between many contributing factors.

Administrative Policies

Refugee allowance policies are limitations put into place by the government. These policies may shift due to new interpretations based on the cultural climate of the time or change as a reaction to emerging needs and situations. Currently, refugees are admitted into the United States through The Department of Homeland Security’s US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The process is conducted through a system of three different priorities for admission: Priority 1 cases are those that are facing serious security concerns. Priority 2 cases involve groups that are of special humanitarian concern to the United States. Priority 3 cases are family reunification cases. In the past, each priority held different weight, but currently there is not much difference among priorities. 31

Policy Interpretation

In order to be considered for resettlement into the United States, refugees have to meet 4 specifications:

An individual must meet the definition of a refugee.

An individual must not be firmly resettled in another country.

An individual must be determined to be of special humanitarian concern to the United States.

An individual must be admissible to the United States. 32

These specifications often prevent refugees from entering the country because they do not have the proof they need to be admitted, which creates a hurdle for refugees seeking protection in and admittance to the United States. Providing evidence that one meets these specifications is incredibly difficult, especially since many of them are undefined by US law. 33

Asylum is granted by individual judges whose own opinions and interpretations may affect the outcome of the case. In Los Angeles immigration cases in the past 5 years, two specific judges granted asylum for only 3% of the hundreds of cases they had received, whereas another judge granted asylum for 71% of the cases they handled. 34 In San Francisco, the judges’ individual asylum grant rates vary from 3% to 91%. Asylum cases depend heavily on the interpretation of individual judges because of a lack in clear-cut definitions. 35

Those fleeing from Central and South America were once considered refugees if they were seeking safety from gang violence or domestic violence. Article 1A(2) of the 1951 Convention (the controlling international convention on refugee law) outlines that members of a “particular social group” can be afforded protection. 36 In the past, those fleeing gang and domestic violence have been considered refugees under this description. However, in 2018, Attorney General Jeff Sessions stated that those who are fleeing for these reasons are no longer considered refugees under “membership in a particular social group.” 37 After this ruling, the grant rate for all asylum cases dropped from 40% in 2017 to 33% in 2019, which is the lowest rate in almost 20 years. 38 At only 20%, the grant rate for Central America specifically is even lower. 39

Policy Changes

Refugee policies have become stricter in recent years as it has become easier for people to migrate to other countries with the rise in commercial airplane service, global communication, and other innovations in world travel and communication. 40 Many countries have been struggling to regulate who enters, and some, such as the United States, have created stricter measures to manage their borders including more rigorous vetting processes, security enhancements, and more thorough investigation of applicants. 41 While these measures are intended “to keep out unauthorized entrants,” they simultaneously “prevent people in need of protection from reaching a country where they may seek safety.” 42

Each fiscal year (October 1st to September 30th), the President of the United States consults with Congress to set a cap on refugee admissions for the upcoming fiscal year. The refugee cap has changed widely over the years. In 1980, after the Refugee Act, the United States accepted 207,116 refugees into the United States, but that number decreased to 61,218 in 1983. In 1992, the refugee admittance went up again to 131,000, and then declined slightly through the next several years. After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the annual cap on refugee acceptance plummeted to 27,000. By 2017, the annual acceptances had surged back to approximately 75,000. Often, the United States does not even meet the cap, which means that the number of refugees allowed into the United States does not reach the number that was set in place for that year. The cap is now at an all time low of 18,000. 43 The Trump administration’s reason given for this is the backlog of those seeking asylum at the border of Mexico and the United States. 44 However, many refugee cases are evaluated before the refugee arrives in the United States, and in 2019, the United States processed over 30,000 refugee cases even while the number of asylum-seekers increased. 45 This indicates that the current low cap is not entirely motivated by the reasons presented by the government.

Public Opinion

Throughout the decades, public opinions on immigration have fluctuated. Because politicians consider the latest polls and prevailing sentiments when making political decisions, public opinion is reflected in the wildly different policies that have been implemented throughout the years. Currently, 60% of US citizens say that newcomers, in general, are a strength to American society, while about 33% of US citizens think that immigrants threaten traditional American values and customs. 46 Since refugees are from a different culture and race, they can be viewed as outsiders, which stigmatizes them as “others” and sparks xenophobic sentiments. 47 There are two major claims on which most fears of refugees are based: (1) refugees will negatively affect the US economy 48 and (2) refugees pose a threat to the safety of US citizens. 49

Although US citizens are concerned about refugees relying on welfare benefits—which are given for a period of 6 months to 2 years—refugees have not been shown to depend on them for extended periods of time. Instead, refugees utilize public benefits at the beginning of their resettlement, but after about 5 to 10 years become financially stable enough to no longer rely on these benefits. In fact, refugees are being employed in self-supporting jobs at a higher rate than native-born citizens. 50 A report from the Department of Health and Human Services showed a variety of statistics that demonstrated the boost refugees gave to the economy in 2016. The taxes collected from refugees amounted to $63 billion dollars more than the funds expended to integrate them into the United States. 51 A study focused in Colorado found that the employment rate among refugees was 17% during their first year living in the United States and 63.5% in their third year. 52 The US resettlement program takes the job market into account when determining where to send resettled refugees, taking precautions to ensure that there will be jobs already available for refugees rather than making them compete with native-born citizens for a limited number of jobs. 53

Although many US citizens are worried that refugees will threaten their safety, the data demonstrates that refugees are not dangerous and are generally law-abiding citizens. Out of the 859,629 refugees admitted since 2001, only three have been convicted of planning terrorist attacks; all three individuals were targeting locations outside of the United States and none of their plans were successfully implemented. 54 Between 2001 and 2015, 24 people died from acts of terrorism implemented by 5 foreign-born terrorists. In the same time period, 80 people died in terrorist attacks implemented by native-born US citizens or those with unknown nationalities. 55 Between 1975 and 2017, there were 192 foreign-born terrorists (a mix of visitors, foreign students, and others) who planned, attempted, or carried out an attack on US soil, compared to 788 native-born Americans who did so. 56 In spite of these facts, the percentage of US citizens who support accepting refugees into the United States has decreased by over 5% from 2017 to 2018, 57 and the House of Representatives passed a bill by a vote of 289-137 that erected substantial hurdles for refugees seeking asylum in 2015. 58

Media Portrayal

The media often portrays the refugee crisis, and refugees themselves, in a negative light. Negative media portrayals lead to increasingly negative public opinions of refugees and the supposed threats they pose to the country’s security and economy. Without sources from which US citizens can receive accurate information about their fears and questions, many adopt media-based perceptions of refugees as “enemies at the gate.” 59 In a recent study among high school students and college students, it was reported that over 70% of people had received little or no education about refugees in any of their classes. 60 This leaves room for the media to create the narrative. Some experts claim the reason for this media frenzy is the media platforms’ need to transform mundane news stories into major events for the purpose of appealing to the public and supporting more extreme political platforms. 61 Without information that properly fills in gaps, readers and watchers are left with extreme opinions, incomplete stories, and unanswered questions.

Consequences

Internment Housing

Because of the recent influx of refugees in the world and the decreased allowances of refugees into the United States, many countries have had to manage the overspill of individuals seeking asylum by placing them in detention centers and refugee camps. There is an important distinction that should be made when discussing detention centers in the United States and refugee camps worldwide. Those who are seeking asylum in the United States are often placed in detention centers—also referred to as Immigration Centers—if they have crossed the US-Mexico border. Once over the border, asylum-seekers are met with lengthy forms and temporary visas before they are granted entrance into the country. On the other hand, refugee camps are often located in intermediate countries, called “host” or “secondary” countries, after having passed through a series of other countries that either could not or would not grant them residence. This is where refugees fleeing their home countries will wait as they apply for resettlement status elsewhere in the world. 62 Though both refugee camps and detention centers have been created to help refugees undergoing this transitory state, they are not effective because of the large influx of refugees seeking asylum into the United States and the low numbers of refugees actually being granted asylum.

In 2013, US detention centers held about 34,000 individuals who had entered the country illegally, with each individual paying about $100 per night to use a bed. More recently, in 2018, detention centers were holding over 51,000 individuals, and the price of a bed had gone up to $133.99. 63 The detention centers in the United States are also known to be unsanitary, with expired food and broken bathroom fixtures. 64 This is true for refugee camps as well; for example, the United Nations (UN) has called for emergency measures to improve the unsafe, unsanitary, and overcrowded conditions in Greece refugee camps. 65

Neither detention centers nor refugee camps have the resources or means to keep up with the rise in the number of refugees. Michelle Bachlett, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said she felt shocked when she saw the state of the detention centers. In these centers the children often sleep on the floor, many do not have access to adequate healthcare or food, and sanitation conditions are poor. 66 Detention centers harm the mental and physical health of refugees and make this difficult process even more traumatic. 67

Family Separation

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued the 2017 United States Administration in February 2019 because of the zero tolerance policy passed on April 6th, 2018, allowing for children to be separated from their families at the border. 68 Trump administration policies caused at least 2,654 children to be separated from their families. 69 Although President Donald Trump signed an executive order intended to keep migrant families together after the initial public outcry over the original policy, 70 there are still children that have not been reunited with their families. 71 Unfortunately, exact data regarding the numbers of children who remain separated from their families does not exist, as the Department of Homeland Security has stated that they struggle to provide accurate, complete, and reliable data on family separations. 72

In addition to the controversial zero tolerance policy, other recent policies have perpetuated the separation of individuals from their loved ones. The Trump travel ban was an executive order signed by President Donald Trump in 2017 that halted all refugee admissions for 4 months; barred those seeking visas from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen; and enacted other orders that affected those seeking visas. 73 Since its original enactment, the travel ban has been broadened to include four more countries—Nigeria, Myanmar (also known as Burma), Eritrea, and Kyrgyzstan. This new addition to the travel ban went into effect on February 22, 2020. 74 The Trump administration said the purpose of these bans was for safety, but they have not provided accurate evidence of safety concerns. This travel ban has kept families separated where individuals cannot receive visas to reunite with their loved ones in the United States. 75

Perpetuated Mental Health Problems

The current US policies are making it more difficult for refugees to reach permanent asylum status, so they are often left with temporary visas or prolonged stays in detention centers or refugee camps. In a study looking at the impact of temporary protection status and detention centers on refugee mental health—specifically measuring depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and mental health-related disability—researchers found a drastic difference between the mental health of permanent versus temporary residents. 76 Temporary residents were 50% more likely than permanent refugee residents to report moderate to severe mental illness. After refugees were in detention for more than 6 months, their diagnoses for mental illness increased by 30%. 77 Since the United States is accepting fewer and fewer refugees, the refugees are more likely to be kept in dangerous situations that put them at greater risk of mental health problems.

Perpetuated mental health problems may originate from a variety of different avenues and many occur before individuals reach the detention centers and refugee camps. Some refugees and asylum-seekers were subjected to trauma in the form of rape, war, chronic fear, and malnutrition, even before they left their homes. 78 Additionally, many refugees may have experienced or witnessed family separation, theft, torture, or killing while fleeing their homes and making the journey towards asylum. 79 Not only do the conditions of refugee camps and detention centers produce trauma, but they may also amplify preexisting trauma as refugees must stay for long periods of time without encouragement or professional guidance to help them process their traumas. 80

Family separation has also caused negative mental health among adolescents. The President of the American Academy of Pediatrics said, “Separating parents from their kids contradicts everything we know about children's welfare.” 81 The stress of being separated from family has very negative effects on children's mental and emotional well-being, especially after the trauma of fleeing their homes.” 82 Children’s mental well-being is permanently affected by being separated from their parents at the border.

Practices

This issue stems largely from administrative policy, something that is nearly impossible for specific organizations to influence due to the complex nature of politics in the United States. Because of this, these practices focus on addressing the contributing factors and consequences of the issue rather than the issue itself. Additionally, many of these organizations do not have thorough impact data, also likely due to the political nature of this issue and the practices that surround it.

Proper Education

Educating US citizens on the refugee crisis can help overcome stigmas in the public perception. With the refugee population growing, educators need to learn how to teach their students what refugees are dealing with in order to correct the stigma that refugees are dangerous. The belief that many asylum-seekers and refugees are terrorists has caused the word “asylum-seeker” to be viewed negatively. 83 One of the best ways to overcome this incorrect association is to teach children accurate information about refugees from a young age. This practice builds a base for future innovation and the creation of appropriate policies that can help both the refugees and the United States. 84 Constructing a positive image of refugee children already in schools instead of labeling them is a huge step toward creating a more accurate perception of refugees. 85

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees USA (UNHCR USA) is an organization that creates easy presentations and lesson outlines to help teachers explain refugees to children of all ages. 86 There are several free resources that UNHCR provides, as well as sources from NGOs, government organizations, and other organizations. Their first topic is “Words Matter.” The word “refugee” is a blanket term that encompasses any person that has been displaced because of war, violence, or persecution. However, each displaced person's situation is different, so understanding what different categories mean will aid in a better understanding of refugees and their needs. The second topic tackles the facts and figures of the refugee crisis, specifically regarding where refugees are coming from, how many displaced people there are worldwide, and other key points. UNHCR provides this data in clear notes and fact sheets for teachers to use. UNHCR also provides reports that help teachers find accurate media about refugees.

Many modern classrooms contain children from refugee or asylum-seeking families. UNHCR helps teachers understand that these children need help acclimating to a new environment. Teachers can help these children understand US culture while remaining sensitive to these children’s needs; many have experienced stress or trauma that may require additional attention. They can make it easier for refugees transitioning into a new culture, as well as spawn understanding and empathy in young native-born US citizens.

Impact

UNHCR is a large organization that has many different programs that provide help for refugees across the world. While they cannot measure their direct impact on administrative policies for decreased allowances, they do measure other outputs. UNHCR has 7.1 million refugee children of school age under their mandate. These refugees want to learn and continue their education. UNHCR values education because it ends the repetitive cycle of poverty. As stated in their 2019 Education Report, “[Education] creates conditions in which refugee children and youth can learn, thrive and develop their potential in peaceful coexistence with each other, and with local children. In a world in which conflict appears to come more easily than peace, these are invaluable lessons.” Because of UNHCR’s educational pursuits, more refugees are starting to reach secondary education. Refugee enrollment in primary school is up from 61% to 63%, while secondary level enrollment has risen from 23% to 24%. In addition, the percentage of refugees accessing higher education has increased from 1% to 3%. 87 With refugees receiving higher education, they are able to become the world’s next leaders, amplifying their voices and enabling lasting change in refugee policy.

Gaps

The UNHCR educational initiative is still in its infancy, and because it is an initiative for the whole world, impact data is hard to find for just the United States. It is also unclear whether UNHCR or the teachers and schools themselves have caused the positive interactions and environments at school. Additionally, refugee enrollment for higher education levels have been increasing, but it is not clear whether this is because of UNHCR’s influence.

Government Policy Advocacy

Public opinion strongly influences administrative policies, as mentioned previously. In order for policies to change, public opinion has to change. Citizens need a way to be informed and educated and then given the resources to use their opinions for good.

Refugee Council USA (RCUSA) is a collection of over 20 nonprofits that work on creating and providing “diverse coalition advocating for just and humane laws and policies, promoting dialogue and communication among government, civil society, and those who need protection and welcome.” 88 They do this through 3 main avenues: enhancing the voices of individuals and organizations that are speaking words of welcome, advocating for rights and durable solutions for those that are forcibly replaced, and building excellence in US refugee resettlement and integration efforts. They also report on what current policies are doing to refugees. 89 Refugee Council USA delivers information in four different ways. First, every couple of months, Refugee Council USA will write about advocates across the United States. Second, they keep readers updated on current events and stories about refugees and policies. Third, they have informationals and toolkits that provide information on a variety of issues such as refugee rights and the process of resettlement under the most recent policies. Lastly, they report on the integration outcomes of refugees. 90

One of the non-profits that contribute to Refugee Council USA is Refugee Congress. Refugee Congress is an advocacy organization made up of former refugees, asylum-seekers, and immigrants whose goal is to “promote the well-being, integration and dignity of all vulnerable migrants.” 91 They have delegates across all 50 states who work at the community level to inform and influence decision-makers on domestic and international issues. They work to change government policies from the bottom up.

Impact

Refugee Council USA has done quite a lot to help educate people on government policies. They are educating individuals, who in turn can be advocates by getting involved in their local politics and influencing decision-makers at the local level, much like Refugee Congress. Through this education, the impact that RCUSA has presented is the change that they have made in the lives of those who work or volunteer for them. 92 Currently, they have around 95,000 advocates around the United States who work on getting involved in their local politics and influencing those around them. They are constantly updating their social media, which reaches over 300 followers, helping them influence people all around the United States.

Gaps

It is difficult to measure the direct impact a certain organization has on administrative policies due to the multi-faceted processes of lobbying and advocating for policy. Thus, there are many different gaps that can be seen both in the effectiveness of the policy on making direct governmental change and also in the recording of data in a qualitative manner that can be used for proper impact evaluation. Additionally, RCUSA’s reports focus mostly on what the government is doing wrong, rather than what positive changes have been made due to the organization’s efforts. 93 As a result, their reports are less on the impact they are making and more on the negative impacts US policies have on refugees. They have reports on the integration outcomes in the United States in 2016, but not on what they did as an organization to help them integrate.

Immigration Lawyers

Immigration lawyers play a huge role in the number of refugees allowed into the United States. Typically, an immigration lawyer is an advisor and counselor to refugees that are attempting to navigate the immigration process of filling out visa applications, applying for citizenship, or dealing with issues of deportation or other complications. 94 Immigration lawyers help by providing free consultations for refugees so that they are prepared to present their cases before immigration judges.

Fragomen Worldwide is a law firm that works in many major cities in the United States, including Chicago, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Miami, and Washington, D.C.. The expansive firm works on helping refugees at any stage to receive the information necessary to successfully present their cases to immigration judges . They are rated the top immigration law firm in the United States. Though Fragomen started in 1951 as a domestic US immigration law firm, the corporation now provides assistance for refugees globally. In addition to assisting with cases, they provide representation and advice to those trying to receive citizenship, visas, or job opportunities. 95

Impact

Since 2015, Fragomen Worldwide has sent over 60 volunteers to the South Texas Family Residential Center, a detention center in Dilley, Texas that houses around 2,200 women and children. For a week, immigration lawyers provide advice and counseling to those struggling to receive the documentation and information needed to receive resettlement. 96 Fragomen has partnered with New York City Bar Justice Center to support the City Bar’s Immigrant Justice Project. This project assists asylum-seekers fleeing persecution in their countries of origin by matching them with lawyers who will work pro bono to provide them with mentoring, training, and guidance throughout their cases. 97 Fragomen does provide a lot of data analytics and impact reports on immigration issues to inform the world of what is going on in the immigration sector. 98

Gaps

Since Fragomen is a privately owned, corporate organization, they are not required to provide impact statistics, but they have built a positive reputation and sizable money reserves. There are so many different immigration lawyers with unique practices and methods so it is impossible to outline their progress and impact as one whole. Fragomen Worldwide has not published what number of people they have successfully helped through the resettlement process, so it is hard to know what impact they have had on refugees. There is no representation of how many people they have helped in the detention center in Dilley, Texas either. Finally, this brief has outlined just one immigration law firm in the United States while immigration law is a very diverse practice with many differences among individual firms.

Key Takeaways

  • The number of people fleeing from their homes and seeking help is increasing.
  • The United States is decreasing the amount of refugees they will accept. The new administrative policy will only allow 18,000 refugees into the United States annually, which decreases the previous amount by more than half.
  • Although there is a lot of media and propaganda equating refugees with terrorists, no terrorist acts have been undertaken by a resettled refugee.
  • Refugees are not a handicap to society, but provide for themselves and their families in a legal and profitable way.
  • Refugee camps and detention centers are becoming increasingly overcrowded, refugee camps are not able to hold as many refugees as need a place, and refugees are waiting over 3 months for a court hearing to see if they are granted asylum.
  • Due to the complex nature of impacting administrative policies, it is hard for individual practices and organizations to have much of an impact on this issue.

1 Michelle Hackman and Andrew Restuccia, “Trump Administration to Reduce Cap on Refugees Allowed Into U.S. to Record-Low 18,000,” The Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones & Company, September 27, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-administration-to-reduce-cap-on-refugees-allowed-into-u-s-to-record-low-18-000-11569533121.

2 “What Is a Refugee?,” USA for UNHCR, accessed April 11, 2020, http://www.unrefugees.org/refugee-facts/what-is-a-refugee/.

3 “Asylum-Seekers,” UNHCR, accessed March 21, 2020, https://www.unhcr.org/en-us/asylum-seekers.html.

4 Zachary Mueller, “Immigration 101: What Is Asylum?,” America's Voice, updated February 10, 2020, https://americasvoice.org/blog/immigration-101-asylum/.

5 “Xenophobia,” Merriam-Webster, accessed November 19, 2019, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/xenophobia.

6 “Resettlement,” UNHCR, accessed August 17, 2020, http://www.unhcr.org/en-us/resettlement.html.

7 “Nationalism,” Lexico Dictionaries, Oxford, accessed December 18, 2019, https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/nationalism.

8 “Fearmongering,” Lexico Dictionaries, Oxford, accessed December 18, 2019, https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/fearmongering.

9 “Acculturation,” Lexico Dictionaries, Oxford, accessed December 18, 2019, https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/acculturation.

10 “What Is a Refugee?” USA for UNHCR, accessed April 11, 2020, https://www.unrefugees.org/refugee-facts/what-is-a-refugee/.

11 “The Refugee Act,” Office of Refugee Resettlement, ACF, August 29, 2012, https://www.acf.hhs.gov/orr/resource/the-refugee-act.

12 “Global Trends: Forced Displacement in 2018,” UNHCR, 2019, https://www.unhcr.org/globaltrends2018/.

13 Refugee Statistics,” USA for UNHCR, accessed November 18, 2019, https://www.unrefugees.org/refugee-facts/statistics/.

14 “What Is a Refugee?,” USA for UNHCR, accessed April 11, 2020, https://www.unrefugees.org/refugee-facts/what-is-a-refugee/.

15 Andrew Edwards, “Forced Displacement Worldwide at Its Highest in Decades,” USA for UNHCR, June 20, 2017, https://www.unrefugees.org/news/forced-displacement-worldwide-at-its-highest-in-decades/.

16 “Global Trends: Forced Displacement in 2018,” UNHCR, 2019, https://www.unhcr.org/globaltrends2018/.

17 “Immigrants as Economic Contributors: Refugees Are a Fiscal Success Story for America,” National Immigration Forum, June 14, 2018, https://immigrationforum.org/article/immigrants-as-economic-contributors-refugees-are-a-fiscal-success-story-for-america/.

18 “What Is a Refugee?,” USA for UNHCR, accessed April 11, 2020, https://www.unrefugees.org/refugee-facts/what-is-a-refugee/.

19 “An Overview of U.S. Refugee Law and Policy,” American Immigration Council, April 1, 2020, https://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/research/overview-us-refugee-law-and-policy.

20 Jynnah Radford and Phillip Connor, “Canada Now Leads the World in Refugee Resettlement, Surpassing the U.S.,” Pew Research Center, June 19, 2019, https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/06/19/canada-now-leads-the-world-in-refugee-resettlement-surpassing-the-u-s/.

21 Jens Manuel Krogstad, “Key Facts about Refugees to the U.S.,” Pew Research Center, October 7, 2019, https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/10/07/key-facts-about-refugees-to-the-u-s/.

22 Janet Phillips, “Asylum Seekers and Refugees: What Are the Facts?,” Parliament of Australia, updated March 02, 2015, https://www.aph.gov.au/about_parliament/parliamentary_departments/parliamentary_library/pubs/rp/rp1415/asylumfacts.

23 “What's the Difference between a Refugee and an Asylum Seeker?,” Amnesty International Australia, June 19, 2019, https://www.amnesty.org.au/refugee-and-an-asylum-seeker-difference/.

24 Drew DeSilver, “US Public Often Hasn't Wanted Refugees Admitted,” Pew Research Center, November 19, 2015, https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/11/19/u-s-public-seldom-has-welcomed-refugees-into-country/.

25 Hannah Hartig, “GOP Views of Accepting Refugees to US Turn More Negative as Admissions Plummet,” Pew Research Center, May 24, 2018, https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/05/24/republicans-turn-more-negative-toward-refugees-as-number-admitted-to-u-s-plummets/.

26 Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, s.v. “Middle East,” accessed August 18, 2020, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Middle%20East.

27 Jynnah Radford and Phillip Connor, “Canada Now Leads the World in Refugee Resettlement, Surpassing the U.S.,” Pew Research Center, June 19, 2019, https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/06/19/canada-now-leads-the-world-in-refugee-resettlement-surpassing-the-u-s/.

28 Kathryn Reid, “Syrian Refugee Crisis: Facts, FAQs, and How to Help,” World Vision, March 10, 2020, https://www.worldvision.org/refugees-news-stories/syrian-refugee-crisis-facts.

29 Kathryn Reid, “Forced to Flee: Top Countries Refugees Are Coming From,” World Vision, February 26, 2020, https://www.worldvision.org/refugees-news-stories/forced-to-flee-top-countries-refugees-coming-from.

30 A. K. M. Ahsan Ullah, "Rohingya Crisis in Myanmar: Seeking Justice for the ‘Stateless’," Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice 32, no. 3 (2016): 285–301, http://doi.org/10.1177/1043986216660811.

31 “Policy Making: Political Interactions,” ushistory.org, Independence Hall Association, accessed February 8, 2020, https://www.ushistory.org/gov/11.asp.

32 Kristie De Peña and Matthew La Corte, “The Devil Is in the Details: Digging Deeper into 2020 Refugee Resettlement Changes,” Niskanen Center, December 9, 2019, https://www.niskanencenter.org/the-devil-is-in-the-details-digging-deeper-into-2020-refugee-resettlement-changes/.

33 Bruno, Andorra. “Refugee Admissions and Resettlement Policy,” Congressional Research Service, December 18, 2018, https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RL31269.pdf.

34 Linda Dale Bevis, “Political Opinions of Refugees: Interpreting International Sources,” Washington Law Review 63, no. 1 (1988): 395, https://heinonline.org/HOL/LandingPage?handle=hein.journals%2Fwashlr63&div=23&id=&page=

35 David G. Savage, “Immigration Courts Are Deeply Split on Who Can Claim Asylum over Violence in Home Countries,” Los Angeles Times, May 06, 2018, https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-asylum-law-20180506-story.html.

36 Ibid.

37 “Asylum & the Rights of Refugees,” International Justice Resource Center, accessed February 27, 2020, https://ijrcenter.org/refugee-law/.

38 “Attorney General's Asylum Decision Undermines All People Seeking Protection,” Refugee Council USA, June 12, 2018, https://rcusa.org/resources/attorney-generals-asylum-decision-undermines-all-people-seeking-protection/.

39 “Asylum Decisions and Denials Jump in 2018,” TRAC Immigration, November 29, 2018, https://trac.syr.edu/immigration/reports/539/.

40 Laura Gottesdiener and John Washington, “They're Refugees, Fleeing Gang Violence and Domestic Abuse. Why Won't the Trump Administration Let Them In?,” The Nation, November 28, 2018, https://www.thenation.com/article/archive/trump-asylum-gangs-domestic-violence/.

41 “An Overview of U.S. Refugee Law and Policy,” American Immigration Council, April 1, 2020, https://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/research/overview-us-refugee-law-and-policy.

42 Ibid.

43 UNHCR, “The Changing Dynamics of Displacement,” in The State of The World's Refugees 2000 (UNHCR, January 01, 2000), http://www.unhcr.org/3ebf9bb80.html.

44 “U.S. Annual Refugee Resettlement Ceilings and Number of Refugees Admitted, 1980–Present,” Migration Policy Institute, October 18, 2019, https://www.migrationpolicy.org/programs/data-hub/charts/us-annual-refugee-resettlement-ceilings-and-number-refugees-admitted-united.

45 Michael D. Shear and Zolan Kanno-Youngs, “Trump Slashes Refugee Cap to 18,000, Curtailing U.S. Role as Haven,” The New York Times, September 26, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/26/us/politics/trump-refugees.html.

46 Ibid.

47 Alex Vandermaas-Peeler, Daniel Cox, Maxine Najle, Molly Fisch-Friedman, Rob Griffin, and Robert P. Jones, “Partisan Polarization Dominates Trump Era: Findings from the 2018 American Values Survey,” PRRI, October 29, 2018, https://www.prri.org/research/partisan-polarization-dominates-trump-era-findings-from-the-2018-american-values-survey/.

48 Ibid.

49 Ismail Hakki Yigit and Andrew Tatch, “Syrian Refugees and Americans: Perceptions, Attitudes and Insights,” American Journal of Qualitative Research 1, no. 1 (December 2017): 13–31, http://www.ejecs.org/index.php/AJQR/article/view/172/115.

50 Thomson Reuters "Do You Think Taking in Refugees from Syria Makes the Host Country More or Less Safe from Terrorism, or Does it Make No Difference?," Statista, March 31, 2016, accessed August 17, 2020, https://www.statista.com/statistics/531393/us-opinion-poll-on-whether-helping-syrian-refugees-makes-the-host-country-safer-by-party-affiliation/.

51 Randy Capps and Michael Fix, “Ten Facts about U.S. Refugee Resettlement ,” Migration Policy Institute, October 2015, https://iimn.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Migration-Policy-Institute-Fact-Sheet.pdf.https://iimn.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Migration-Policy-Institute-Fact-Sheet.pdf.

52 Julie Davis and Somini Sengupta, “Rejected Report Shows Revenue Brought In by Refugees,” The New York Times, September 19, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/09/19/us/politics/document-Refugee-Report.html.

53 Ibid.

54 Nathan Brown, “Are Refugees Stealing Jobs?,” Twin Falls Times, August 28, 2016, https://magicvalley.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/are-refugees-stealing-jobs/article_d17a14bf-c4d7-5153-8a33-eec12b56bcc2.html.

55 Alex Nowrasteh, “Syrian Refugees Don't Pose a Serious Security Threat,” Cato Institute, November 18, 2015, https://www.cato.org/blog/syrian-refugees-dont-pose-serious-security-threat.

56 Alex Nowrasteh, “Terrorism and Immigration: A Risk Analysis,” Cato Institute, September 13, 2016, https://www.cato.org/publications/policy-analysis/terrorism-immigration-risk-analysis.

57 Ibid.

58 Hannah Hartig, “GOP Views of Accepting Refugees to US Turn More Negative as Admissions Plummet,” Pew Research Center, May 24, 2018, https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/05/24/republicans-turn-more-negative-toward-refugees-as-number-admitted-to-u-s-plummets/.

59 Hanna Kozlowska, “The US House of Representatives Just Voted to Fence out Syrian Refugees,” Quartz, November 20, 2015, https://qz.com/554738/the-us-congress-just-voted-to-fence-out-syrian-refugees/.

60 University of Western Ontario, “Study Shows Media Play Role in Dehumanizing Immigrants and Refugees,” Phys.org, September 23, 2013, https://phys.org/news/2013-09-media-role-dehumanizing-immigrants-refugees.html.

61 James Adam Cambell, “Attitudes towards Refugee Education and Its Link to Xenophobia in the United States,” Intercultural Education 28, no.5 (2017): 474–479, https://doi.org/10.1080/14675986.2017.1336374.

62 Victoria M. Esses, Stelian Medianu, and Andrea S. Lawson, “Uncertainty, Threat, and the Role of the Media in Promoting the Dehumanization of Immigrants and Refugees,” Journal of Social Issues 69, no. 3 (September 2013): 518–536, https://doi.org/10.1111/josi.12027.

63 “What Is a Refugee Camp?,” USA for UNHCR, accessed April 24, 2020, https://www.unrefugees.org/refugee-facts/camps/.

64 “U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Budget Overview,” Department of Homeland Security, 2018, https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/ICE%20FY18%20Budget.pdf.

65 “Life Inside U.S. Migrant Detention Centers,” WBUR, updated June 20, 2019, https://www.wbur.org/onpoint/2019/06/20/immigrant-detention-centers-us-mexico-border.

66 Mélissa Godin, “UN Calls For 'Emergency Measures' In Greek Refugee Camps,” Time, February 11, 2020, https://time.com/5781936/lesbos-greece-refugee-camps-dangerous/.

67 “UN Rights Chief 'Appalled' by US Border Detention Conditions, Says Holding Migrant Children May Violate International Law,” UN News, July 8, 2019, https://news.un.org/en/story/2019/07/1041991.

68 Madeleine Joung, “What Is Happening at Migrant Detention Centers? What to Know,” Time, July 12, 2019, https://time.com/5623148/migrant-detention-centers-conditions/.

69 ACLU, “Family Separation by the Numbers,” American Civil Liberties Union, October 2, 2018, https://www.aclu.org/issues/immigrants-rights/immigrants-rights-and-detention/family-separation.

70 “Family Separation,” American Civil Liberties Union, accessed August 18, 2020, https://www.aclu.org/issues/immigrants-rights/immigrants-rights-and-detention/family-separation.

71 Christina Wilkie, “Trump Signs Order That He Says Will Keep Migrant Families Together,” CNBC, June 20, 2018, https://www.cnbc.com/2018/06/20/trump-says-hes-going-to-sign-a-preemptive-measure-to-keep-migrant-families-together.html.

72 Madeleine Joung, “What Is Happening at Migrant Detention Centers? What to Know,” Time, July 12, 2019, https://time.com/5623148/migrant-detention-centers-conditions/.

73 “Family Separation by the Numbers,” American Civil Liberties Union, October 2, 2018, https://www.aclu.org/issues/immigrants-rights/immigrants-rights-and-detention/family-separation.

74 “Full Text of Trump's Executive Order on 7-Nation Ban, Refugee Suspension,” CNN, January 28, 2017, https://www.cnn.com/2017/01/28/politics/text-of-trump-executive-order-nation-ban-refugees/index.html.

75 Caitlin Oprysko, Anita Kumar, and Nahal Toosi, “Trump Administration Expands Travel Ban,” Politico, January 1, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/01/31/trump-administration-expands-travel-ban-110005.

76 “Refugees in America,” International Rescue Committee, accessed August 17, 2020, https://www.rescue.org/topic/refugees-america.

77 Zachary Steel, Derrick Silove, Robert Brooks, Shakeh Momartin, Bushra Alzuhairi, and Ina Susljik, “Impact of Immigration Detention and Temporary Protection on the Mental Health of Refugees,” British Journal of Psychiatry 188, no. 1 (January 2006): 58–64, https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry/article/impact-of-immigration-detention-and-temporary-protection-on-the-mental-health-of-refugees/B6914BF421D202CE4474C5F757BC541E/core-reader.

78 Ibid.

79 Ellen Heptinstall, Vaheshta Sethna, and Eric Taylor, "PTSD and Depression in Refugee Children," European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry 13, no. 6 (2004): 373–380, http://doi.org/10.1007/s00787-004-0422-y.

80 G. Juneau and Neal S. Rubin, "A First Person Account of the Refugee Experience: Identifying Psychosocial Stressors and Formulating Psychological Responses," Psychology International 25, no. 4 (2014): 7–11.

81 Lloy Wylie, Rita Van Meyel, Heather Harder, Javeed Sukhera, Cathy Luc, Hooman Ganjavi, Mohamad Elfakhani, and Nancy Wardrop, "Assessing Trauma in a Transcultural Context: Challenges in Mental Health Care with Immigrants and Refugees," Public Health Reviews 39, no. 1 (2018): 1–19, https://doi.org/10.1186/s40985-018-0102-y.

82 Shruti Simha, “The Impact of Family Separation on Immigrant and Refugee Families,” North Carolina Medical Journal 80, no. 2 (March 2019): 95–96, https://doi.org/10.18043/ncm.80.2.95.

83 “InBrief: The Science of Early Childhood Development,” Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, 2007, https://developingchild.harvard.edu/resources/inbrief-science-of-ecd/.

84 Zygumt Bauman, Wasted Lives: Modernity and Its Outcasts, (Cambridge, UK and Malden, MA: Polity, 2004).

85 Julie Kasper, “When the Nation Closes Its Doors to Refugees, Schools Can Open Them,” The Hechinger Report, October 21, 2018, https://hechingerreport.org/teacher-voice-when-the-nation-closes-its-doors-to-refugees-schools-can-open-them/.

86 Halleli Pinson and Madeleine Arnot, “Local Conceptualisations of the Education of Asylum—Seeking and Refugee Students: from Hostile to Holistic Models,” International Journal of Inclusive Education 14, no, 3 (2010): 247–267, https://doi.org/10.1080/13603110802504523.

87 “Teaching about Refugees,” UNHCR, accessed March 21, 2020, https://www.unhcr.org/en-us/teaching-about-refugees.html.

88 “Stepping Up: Refugee Education in Crisis,” UNHCR, accessed April 11, 2020, https://www.unhcr.org/en-us/5d651cbd4.

89 “About,” Refugee Council USA, accessed November 18, 2019, https://rcusa.org/about/.

90 “Refugee Council USA Releases Comprehensive Report on the Harmful Impact of Drastic Refugee Resettlement Cuts,” Refugee Council USA, June 12, 2019, https://rcusa.org/resources/refugee-council-usa-releases-comprehensive-report-on-the-harmful-impact-of-drastic-refugee-resettlement-cuts/.

91 “Resources,” Refugee Council USA, accessed August 17, 2020, https://rcusa.org/resources.

92 “About Refugee Congress,” Refugee Congress, January 2020, http://refugeecongress.org/about-refugee-congress/.

93 Danielle Grigsby, “RCUSA Monthly Report Card: July,” Refugee Council USA, August 3, 2018, https://rcusa.org/resources/rcusa-monthly-report-card-july/.

94 Danielle Grigsby, “RCUSA FY18 Year in Review: Report Card,” Refugee Council USA, October 10, 2018, https://rcusa.org/resources/rcusa-fy18-year-in-review-report-card-2/.

95 Ken LaMance, “The Role of Immigration Lawyers,” LegalMatch Law Library, June 24, 2018, https://www.legalmatch.com/law-library/article/the-role-of-immigration-lawyers.html.

96 “About,” Fragomen, accessed August 17, 2020, https://www.fragomen.com/about.

97 Fragomen News, “Fragomen Sends Pro Bono Teams to Assist Detained Immigrant Families at Border,” Fragomen, September 20, 2018, https://www.fragomen.com/about/news/fragomen-sends-pro-bono-teams-assist-detained-immigrant-families-border.

98 Fragomen News, “Making a Difference in Immigration with Pro Bono Partnerships,” Fragomen, April 19, 2019, https://www.fragomen.com/about/news/making-difference-immigration-pro-bono-partnerships.

99 “Blog,” Fragomen, accessed August 17, 2020, https://www.fragomen.com/insights/blog.


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