Millions of people around the world have been forced from their home countries due to war, genocide, or persecution.
They come from conflict-ridden countries like Syria, Somalia, and Sudan, and they wait for years in refugee camps before they can secure a spot in safe countries.
The United States takes in just a tiny fraction of the world's refugees — but it maintains perhaps the strictest, most rigorous vetting process.
Here's a look at where the world's refugees come from and what they endure to make it to safety in the United States:
The UNHCR estimates that some 65.6 million people around the world have been forced from their homes. Some of them are refugees within their own countries, some have managed to flee their home countries altogether, and some have no citizenship — and therefore nowhere to go.
As of 2016, the most recent year with data available, just 0.8% of the world's refugees were resettled in safe countries. For 0.4% of refugees, that safe country was the United States.
When refugees flee their home country, they often have to temporarily seek safety in a "host country," where they typically live in refugee camps until they can permanently be resettled. For instance, many of Syria's 5.5 million refugees sought temporary safety in neighboring countries such as Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan.
The United States is one of 37 countries that offer resettlement programs, though refugees don’t get to pick where they’re sent. Instead, the UNHCR assigns them to the US. Then, they undergo a rigorous, years-long screening process by US officials. Here's how that works:
President Donald Trump has dramatically restricted America's refugee intake since he took office, and though he has demanded that "extreme vetting" be implemented for refugees coming from majority-Muslim countries, those closest to the refugee-vetting process say the current system is already as extreme as it gets.
The refugees undergo years of screening filled with intensive interviews, detailed background checks from multiple government agencies, biometric data collection, medical tests, and constant scrutiny from the US officials who vet them.
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