These 10 States Have Welcomed the Most Refugees Since 2007
A refugee is a person forced to flee his or her country due to persecution, war, or violence. More than half of all the world’s refugees currently come from just three countries: Syria, Afghanistan, and South Sudan. Since these people cannot return to their homeland, governments around the world, including the U.S., agree to take them in. Since 2007, 670,000 refugees came to the United States from around the world, based on data from the Refugee Processing Center.
Most refugees entering the United States are from Burma (151,000), Iraq (141,000), and Bhutan (94,000). In all, they settled throughout the 50 states and the District of Columbia. While a handful of states (Mississippi, Delaware, Hawaii, and Wyoming) welcomed fewer than 100 refugees in the past 10 years, a total of 10 states took in more than half of them. Refugees have made new homes for themselves in these 10 states.
- Refugees taken in since 2007: 24,594
- Percentage of total: 3.7%
With a total of 11.6 million residents, Ohio has the seventh largest population of all 50 states. Since 2007, Ohio took in almost 25,000 refugees, or 3.7% of the total who came to the United States.
Akron, Ohio, made the news in October for having taken in around 5,000 Bhutanese people fleeing their home country over the last decade. As a result, the city is now home to a dozen Nepalese shops and restaurants where there were once abandoned storefronts. “The majority group is no longer primarily concerned with surviving and now they’re moving onto living normal lives,” said Tiffany Ann Stacy, who consults with Akron area businesses on cultural issues.
Next: This state houses America’s Refugee Capital.
- Refugees taken in since 2007: 25,649
- Percentage of total: 3.7%
Pennsylvania is home to 12.8 million residents. It ranks as the fifth most populated state. Since 2007, Pennsylvania took in more than 25,000 refugees, or 3.7% of the total coming to the country.
In fact, the city of Lancaster, Pennsylvania was named America’s Refugee Capital by the BBC in January 2017. The news outlet reported that Lancaster takes in 20 times more people per capita than the rest of the United States. They have been moving to Lancaster from countries like Syria, Somalia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Next: This state has brought in people from 46 countries.
- Refugees taken in since 2007: 25,782
- Percentage of total: 4.3%
With 7.4 million residents, Washington is the country’s 13th largest state. It has taken in just under 26,000 refugees in the past 10 years, totaling 4.3% of all those settling in the country during that time.
According to reports, nearly 30% of Washington’s recent population growth is from immigration. (It’s even higher in Seattle.) The state takes in an average of 2,500 refugees every year. Three countries people most commonly flee to eventually reach Washington are Somalia, Myanmar (Burma), and Iran.
Next: A small town in the deep South is a haven for refugees.
- Refugees taken in since 2007: 27,154
- Percentage of total: 4%
With a population of 10.4 million residents, Georgia is the country’s eighth most populous state. It has taken in more than 27,000 refugees in the past 10 years, or 4% of all refugees settling in the United States during that time frame.
One small town in particular is known for taking in large numbers of refugees. Clarkston, Georgia, with a population of just 13,000, has taken in more than 1,500 refugees per year for the past 40 years. Those who have sought refuge in the small town include Syrians, Bhutanese, Eritreans, Ethiopians, Somalis, Sudanese, Liberians, and Vietnamese. According to reports, the town has been a haven for those fleeing war and persecution in other countries since the early 1990s. This is thanks to its low-cost, high-density apartment complexes and proximity to the interstate.
Next: Many of those taken in by this state go on to seek homes and jobs elsewhere.
- Refugees taken in since 2007: 30,574
- Percentage of total: 4.5%
With 7 million residents, Arizona is the country’s 14th most populous state. It comes in as taking in the sixth most refugees of any state over the past 10 years. It has taken in just over 30,000 of them since then, or 4.5% of the national total during that time.
In particular, 7,351 Somali refugees moved to Arizona between 1981 and 2017, according to Department of Economic Security statistics. While some remain in the state, many others eventually end up leaving for other places like Minnesota, where there is a large Somali community. Reasons for moving include the need to find jobs, Phoenix New Times reported.
Next: A state which has taken in many people has seen a recent downturn in numbers.
- Refugees taken in since 2007: 31,455
- Percentage of total: 4.7%
Florida is the country’s third most populous state, with 21 million residents. The state has taken in the fifth most refugees in the past 10 years, totaling more than 31,000 people. This makes up 4.7% of the national total during that time frame.
Although it comes in as the No. 5 state for taking in refugees over the past 10 years, some reports say that Florida has seen a substantial downturn in the number of arrivals in 2017. This is possibly a sign that President Donald Trump’s new policies are having an impact on the number of those entering the country. News-Press reported that 543 such people were resettled in Florida during the first four months of the year, which reflects a 24% decrease from the same period the previous year, when 712 were relocated in Florida.
Next: This state is home to the second-highest number of Syrian refugees.
- Refugees taken in since 2007: 34,606
- Percentage of total: 5.2%
With a population of 9.9 million residents, Michigan is the 10th most populous state in the U.S. The state took in more than 34,000 refugees since 2007, or the fourth-most in the country. This represents 5.2% of the national total during the same time frame.
Michigan has the second highest Syrian refugee population in the country (second to California), according to the Detroit Free Press. The highest number of those in Michigan, however, are from Iraq. Like all refugees who arrive in the U.S., those who settle in Michigan may be eligible for eight months of financial assistance, WXYZ-TV Detroit reported.
Next: This state took in almost 40,000 refugees.
3. New York
- Refugees taken in since 2007: 39,889
- Percentage of total: 6%
New York is home to 19.7 million residents. This makes it the fifth most populous state, and it took in just under 6% of all refugees in the past 10 years — just under 40,000 people in total.
In 2016, the top countries from which people fled to settle in New York were The Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Burma (Myanmar), and Syria. The vast majority of those arriving in the state (94%) settled in upstate New York, with the remaining 6% going to New York City and Long Island.
Next: This state took in the most people in 2016.
- Refugees taken in since 2007: 67,558
- Percentage of total: 10%
Texas is the second most populous state in the country, home to 28.3 million residents. It took in more than 67,000 refugees in the past 10 years, or 10% of all those entering the country.
In 2016, U.S. State Department records show more refugees resettled in Texas than in any other state. Those from 28 countries settled in northern Texas, and more found homes in Dallas-Forth Worth than in any other metropolitan area nationwide, according to Dallas News.
Next: This state took in the most people over the past 10 years.
- Number of refugees taken in since 2007: 70,318
- Percentage of total: 10.4%
California is the most populous state, with just under 40 million residents. It also is the state which took in the most refugees – more than 70,000 – in the past 10 years. This reflects 10.4% of all those entering in the same time frame.
According to the State Department, California has taken in around 112,000 refugees in the past 15 years. They have settled in more than 440 California cities and communities. Of all areas in the state, San Diego County has seen the biggest influx, with more than 31,000 resettling there since 2002.
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