Never before has the world witnessed such a dramatic scale of human suffering. Today, 65 million people—24 per minute—are displaced worldwide by conflict and persecution. Facts about refugees are often miscommunicated in the media and used to aid political agendas. The purpose of this post is to simply state some the facts concerning refugees.
Myth: Refugees are terrorists.
Fact: Refugees are fleeing terror groups such as ISIS and Boko Haram. Experts agree that refugees are not a security threat.
According to the CATO Institute research on Terrorisms and Immigration since 1975, 94% of all successful terrorists entered the U.S. through a tourist visa and 5% entered on a student visa. The remaining 1% is divided among asylum seekers, refugees, visa waiver program, and illegal. The focus today is on the less than 1%. In the last 41 years, the U.S. has admitted 3.3 million refugees. Only three of these refugees committed crimes that are now deemed “acts of terrorism.” All three were before the implementation of the Refugee Act of 1980, a procedure creating more rigorous refugee-screenings. These crimes are so old that the word “terrorist” was not even being used at that time. In contrast, the U.S. admitted 657 million tourists with of which 1 in every 232,157 was a successful terrorist.
Myth: Refugees are mostly men.
Fact: More than half of the world’s refugees are children.
Fears that most refugees are young men who support terrorism are unfounded. More than half of the world’s refugees are children under the age of 18, and the United States predominantly admits refugee families.
Myth: We have never faced a refugee crisis like this before.
Fact: From World War II to Vietnam, the U.S. has provided safe refuge for thousands of refugee families over the years.
Time and time again, the U.S. has shown leadership during world crises. Most recently, some 1.3 million Southeast Asians fleeing conflicts in the mid-twentieth century were resettled in countries around the world, including more than 800,000 in the U.S. Coincidentally, hundreds of thousands of South Vietnamese escaped on rickety, overcrowded, barely seaworthy boats, just as refugees are doing in the Mediterranean and Aegean seas today.
Myth: Refugees want to leave their home country.
Fact: Refugees are forced to flee their homes due to war and persecution.
Refugees leave their country because they have no other choice. They fear for their lives and those of their families when their governments will not or cannot protect them from war, sectarian conflict and serious human-rights abuses.
Often they must leave their homes without notice, must travel with few belongings or none at all, and face perilous journeys involving great hardship. They risk their lives to cross borders, knowing they will be unable to return home until conditions improve, which can take decades.
Myth: Refugees are all Muslim.
Fact: Refugees are all religions.
According to the U.S. Office of Admissions Refugee Processing Center, only 24,768 refugees who arrived between January 2016 and August 2016 were Muslim, while more than 30,000 were of Christian and other faiths.
Myth: Refugees are all from the Middle East.
Fact: The majority of refugees considered for resettlement come from Myanmar.
For the past decade, 27 percent of all refugees have been from Myanmar (also known as Burma), where conflict between several ethnic groups and the government continues to rage, making it the world’s longest-running civil war. Bhutan, Iraq, Somalia, Congo and Afghanistan account for a significant portion of the total refugee population.
Myth: Refugees are a drain on society.
Fact: Refugees start businesses, pay taxes and contribute to their communities.
The U.S. has proudly played a leading role in welcoming people in need. Refugees like former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Google co-founder Seregy Brin, and Nobel Prize-winning physicist and IRC founder Albert Einstein came to the U.S. to rebuild their lives. In fact, the vast majority of newly resettled refugees quickly find jobs (85 percent of refugees resettled by the IRC are working within 180 days of arrival), they spend money that helps local economies and send their children to school with the intent that they become productive members of their new communities.