Axios is reporting that the policies of the Trump administration are changing the demographics of America’s refugee population. This year, 70.6 percent of the refugees taken into the United States were Christian, as against 14.5 percent who were Muslim. This stands in sharp contrast to the parity these two world religions had between 2012 and 2016, when the two religions had rough parity, when both hovered between 40 percent and 50 percent. The United States is taking in far fewer refugees from Myanmar and Somalia. As Axios reports, “For no known reasons, the White House expressed particular concern over allowing refugees from Somalia into the U.S., former chief of the refugee affairs division at USCIS Barbara Stack told Zoe Chace in the latest episode of This American Life.”
But looking at just the percentages, as against the absolute numbers, is deceptive. The fact is the United States is taking in far fewer refugees from all religious groups, with Christians being less disfavored than others but still getting rejected at a higher rate than before. Although President Donald Trump has vowed to help Christian refugees, in absolute terms his administration has taken in 40 percent fewer of them last year.
Mary Giovagnoli, director of Refugee Council USA, argues that administration policies to create more hurdles for Muslim refugees have also had the effect of hampering Christians seeking asylum in the United States. “Ironically, these policies, while clearly aimed at Muslim refugees, ensure that Christians and other religious minorities from many of the countries on Trump’s list of suspect travel ban nations are also kept out,” she notes. “It suggests that the president has no real interest in religious persecution or the tenets of religious freedom.”