The U.S. has received 28,957 Muslim refugees so far in fiscal year 2016, or nearly half (46%) of the more than 63,000 refugees who have entered the country since the fiscal year began Oct. 1, 2015, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of data from the State Department’s Refugee Processing Center. That means that already this year the U.S. has admitted the highest number of Muslim refugees of any year since 2002.
Christians are the second-largest group of refugees to the U.S. so far this fiscal year; 27,556 Christian refugees have entered the country, nearly as many as the number of Muslim refugees. A slightly lower share of 2016’s refugees were Christian (44%) than Muslim, the first time that has happened since fiscal 2006, when a large number of Somali refugees entered the U.S.
People seeking to enter the U.S. as refugees are processed overseas. As part of the process, they are asked a series of questions, including their religious affiliation. When their applications are approved, refugees travel to the U.S. to be resettled by nonprofit groups associated with the Office of Refugee Resettlement. Refugees to the U.S. are different from asylum seekers, who claim asylum after already being in the U.S. or crossing into the U.S. via an airport or land border.