Refugee Resettlement Declining, Helpful in Slowing U.S. Population Growth

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By Joe Guzzardi

Joe is a CAPS Senior Writing Fellow whose commentaries about California's social issues have run in newspapers throughout California and the country for nearly 30 years. Contact Joe at, or find him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.

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November 9, 2017
U.S. Fertility at all-time low.
U.S. Fertility at all-time low.
Recently released State Department data showed that in October, the United States took in only 1,242 refugees, dramatically fewer than the 9,945 the Obama administration admitted in the same month during fiscal year 2017. The sharply lower total is consistent with President Trump’s executive order demanding tougher refugee vetting, and his 45,000 fiscal year 2018 refugee cap.

Fewer refugees and less immigration overall helps stabilize the U.S. population. Immigrants that legally enter and become permanent residents can petition their families, creating chain migration. Moreover,  many of the refugees arrive from historically high fertility nations. In October FY 2017 the Refugee Admissions Program admitted 1,352 Somalis, 1,323 Iraqis, 1,297 Syrians and 414 Iranians.

The 2017 estimated fertility rates, births per woman, for those countries are, according to the Central Intelligence Agency, Somalia, 5.8 children; Iraq, 4.0; Syria, 2.5, and Iran, 1.97, all higher than the U.S.’s 1.87 rate. In 2017’s first quarter, the U.S. achieved the lowest fertility rate since records were first kept a century ago.

Refugees are also immediately work authorized, and can be employed upon presentation of a federally issued I-94 form. In tight labor markets, more work-seeking refugees make job competition tougher for unemployed and under-employed Americans and legally present immigrants. About 50 U.S. companies including Starbucks and Chobani have demonstrated an increasing willingness to hire refugees even though Americans are available and eager to take those jobs.

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