Christians Are Now the Largest Group of Refugees Entering the United States

For a long time, the Muslim population was the largest population entering the country as refugees — but as of mid-2017, Christian refugees have surpassed them.

Under the Trump administration, Christians have accounted for a growing share of U.S. refugee arrivals. But where are these refugees arriving from and what challenges are they facing?

Political Changes

Early in 2017, a travel ban did make it more difficult for Muslims to enter into the United States. This dramatically shifted the demographics of refugees entering into the country. From January 21st through June 30th, 9,598 Christian refugees arrived, versus 7,250 Muslim refugees. This is the first time in a considerable amount of time in which Christian refugees outnumbered Muslims.

Regardless of where the public stands on these political changes, they do appropriately represent the demographic of America as a whole. In 2014, a study by Pew Research Center found that the United States is approximately 70% Christian. Despite this, less than 50% of the refugees being brought into the country were Christian.

Fleeing Persecution

Christian refugees are coming from areas such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burma, Ukraine, Bhutan, and Eritrea, where many face religious persecution. There are even a number of Christians originating from Iraq who have fled the Muslim-controlled state, but now run the risk of being deported. As radical Islam has advanced through many countries, Christians have become displaced in many areas.

Religious persecution occurs in many countries, and global disruption has displaced a significant number of people from all races, religions, and regions. With a never before seen number of Christian refugees coming into the United States, it becomes necessary to bolster protections and services for a demographic that previously did not exist.

More importantly, it becomes evident that refugee status has very little to do with race or religion. Rather, the influx of refugees to our country is a by-product of the wars and economic hardships that are going on in countries across the globe. With the number of Christian refugees now exceeding the number of Muslim refugees — but the amount of refugees being accepted into the country staying relatively static — it becomes obvious that there are many displaced people throughout many countries.

Travel Bans

Muslim-dominant countries have been targeted as the focus of sanctions and bans for some time — but that has given rise to a social and political problem for Christians as well. Christians in Muslim-dominated countries often need to flee from persecution, but when they do so they are labeled as an “Iraqi refugee” or a “Syrian refugee.” 

Ironically, that means that regulations and campaigns that are intended to target Muslim refugees are targeting Christian refugees as well. They flee discrimination from a Muslim country, and are then discriminated against because they came from a Muslim country, encountering discrimination from both sides.

10% of Syria’s population is considered to be Christian, but only 2.6% of Syrian refugees are Christian. This indicates that it may actually be more challenging for Christians to enter into the country, whether due to paperwork or due to social pressures. Outreach may be necessary for these countries to be able to appropriately send those who need help — and for those who require it to receive it.

Meanwhile, the state will need to be clearer on judging refugee status based on need rather than on race, ethnicity, gender, or religion. If Christian refugees are being turned away at a rate higher than other religions, it would indicate that the religions are not being treated equally.

Refugee and immigrant services are a growing need for the displaced Christian refugees that are now entering the country in droves. Many of these Christian refugees come from war torn countries or Muslim-dominated states, which means that they flee persecution from one country only to be persecuted in the next because of their origins.

Many churches are now expanding their refugee services to compensate for this influx, which may be a necessity until state organizations can begin addressing the problem appropriately.

 ~ 1776 Christian

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