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News & Events2019-03-25T19:18:21+00:00

Impact of Executive Orders on the Refugee Resettlement Program

There have been significant changes to the U.S. refugee resettlement program in recent years. The number of refugees resettled in Kentucky declined by 63% between Fiscal Year 2016 and Fiscal Year 2018. In FY2016, Kentucky resettled 2,390 refugees. In FY2018, which ended 09/30/2018, Kentucky resettled 897 refugees.

In Fiscal Year 2017 Kentucky planned on welcoming 2,431 refugees, but the number of arrivals was reduced due to a series of Executive Orders, including a 120 day pause on all refugee admissions, with limited exceptions for bona fide relationships. Kentucky ended up resettling 1,583 refugees in FY2017.

FY2017 Kentucky Refugee Arrivals by Quarter

After the 120 day pause on refugee admissions, a new announcement was made in early FY2018 that resumed the U.S. refugee admissions program with enhanced vetting capabilities. Additional screening measures are placed on refugee applicants from countries determined to be high risk.

The largest number of refugees comes from Syria – there are currently 6.3 million refugees living outside of Syria and unable to return. In Fiscal Year 2018, the United States resettled only 62 refugees from Syria.  0 were resettled in Kentucky (163 were resettled in Louisville and Lexington the previous year).

The national ceiling for refugee arrivals in the current fiscal year (ending 09/30/2019) is 30,000. This is the lowest admission ceiling set since the Refugee Act of 1980. Kentucky is projected to resettle 1,124 refugees in Fiscal Year 2019. If the national ceiling is not met, Kentucky will resettle less than the projected number.  In FY2018, the ceiling was set at 45,000, but only 22,491 refugees arrived nationwide –half of the projected number. Fiscal Year 2018 ended with the lowest number of refugee admissions in the history of the program. 

As we face the worst displacement crisis in recorded history with over 25.4 million refugees worldwide, the refugee resettlement network in Kentucky remains committed to welcoming our newest neighbors. We are thankful for a dedicated network of organizations and individuals across the state working tirelessly to provide services for those who have made Kentucky their new home.