The United States has long been the global leader in resettling refugees, defined as people forced to flee their home country to escape war, persecution or violence, explains Smithsonian magazine in a state-by-state comparison.
Since 2001, the magazine reports, more than 895,000 refugees have settled in the U.S., typically after being referred by the United Nations and vetted by the State Department in a process that takes at least 18 months. By comparison, a million or so legal immigrants arrive annually. From October 2001 through 2016, Burma, Iraq, Somalia, Bhutan, and Iran are the top five nations that send refugees to the U.S.
Refugees to the United States have come mostly from the Middle East, Asia and Africa. While many immigrants, legal and undocumented, come from Latin America, U.S. regulations make it difficult for Central and South Americans to qualify as refugees, according to Smithsonian.
The magazine developed a series of charts that compare refugee populations resettled in 41 states since October 2001. In depicting the refugees’ nation or origin, the breakdown in each state is limited to nationalities with at least 500 people, and no more than the top 5 nationalities are shown.
The number of refugees from those five nations, as well the total number of refugees is indicated.
For Connecticut, the total number of refugees is 7,144. The largest percentage of refugees come from Burma, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iran and Somalia. Those four nations were the home country for 3,824 of the refugees who settled in Connecticut since 2001.
Massachusetts’ total is three times Connecticut – 21,441 refugees moving to the Bay State since 2001.
States with the largest number of refugees include California (102,614), Texas (81,765), New York (53,790), Florida (46,553), Minnesota (40,762), Washington (40,111), Arizona (39,031), Michigan (38,175), and Georgia (35,328).
There were nine states that had less than 500 refugees from a single country since October 2001: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, Hawaii, Mississippi, Montana West Virginia and Wyoming.