Immigration Policy

Refugees and Asylum Seekers

The rest of the world looks to American leadership on humanitarian immigration— the resettlement of refugees and asylum seekers. It currently represents 17% of total immigration into the United States.

Refugees welcome sign.

By the end of 2019, 79.5 million individuals were forcibly displaced worldwide because of persecution, conflict, violence or human rights violations. This includes 26 million refugees around the world—the highest number ever— along with 4.2 million asylum-seekers. Since the U.S. refugee resettlement program was founded in 1980, the United States has admitted as many as 207,000 refugees per year. The figure reached a low of 18,000 in 2020.

The asylum system is under pressure because our current immigration system provides too few opportunities for immigrants to come here legally. Additionally, the United States must provide a more efficient and timely way for asylum seekers to process through immigration court.

At a time of record global displacement of refugees, the United States must lead by example and commit to resettling refugees.  Changes to the asylum process should come from Congress.

The United States is uniquely positioned through its political and economic might to address the conditions that foster displacement and extremism, and lead humanitarian efforts to combat them.
Deputy Director, Freedom and Democracy George W. Bush Institute
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