2016 saw a record number of Muslim refugees being let into the US
. However refugees in general come from several different backgrounds
of the world.
Would you have guessed, for instance, that the top three countries from which refugees came last year were, in order, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Syria, and Myanmar?
New citizens also come from some surprising places
Let's take a look at immigrants who eventually become citizens.
That's what naturalization
is -- becoming a full US citizen through a rigorous naturalization process
was the top place
of birth for citizens naturalized in 2015. The other top two countries where these new US citizens were born? India
and the Philippines
Muslims make up a small portion of immigrants, and an even smaller portion of the population
According to the Pew Research Center
, About a 10th
of immigrants coming to the US are Muslim
. They also estimate there are about 3.3 million people
who practice Islam
in the US. Another interesting tidbit from their report: They estimate the number of Americans who convert to Islam
is about equal
to the number of Muslim-Americans who convert to another faith
or no longer identify with Islam.
The 'travel ban' targets Muslim-majority countries
The executive order lists seven countries, all of which are predominantly Muslim: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia.
These countries represent a tiny number of new refugees
marked the highest number of Syrian refugees
admitted into the US. The 12,587
refugees accounted for 14%
of all refugees admitted. That number is dwarfed
by the overall estimated number
of Syrian refugees -- about 11 million
in the past six years -- as well as the number of refugees who flee to Europe. According to Eurostat, 350,000 Syrians
applied for asylum in EU countries
People from the 'travel ban' countries are barely involved in terrorism in the US
When we say barely, we mean BARELY. According to the CATO Institute
, not one person
from the seven countries included in the ban has killed anyone
in a terror attack on US soil in the last 40 years
. This includes refugees, as well.
During this time, only 17 people from these nations combined have been convicted of directly planning or implementing a terrorist attack.
Terrorism is real, but the odds are extraordinary
is a serious global issue
, one that most leaders and citizens agree needs to be taken seriously. However, when the risk is boiled down to a matter of immigrants
, refugees, and American citizens, the threat becomes infinitesimally small
. According to a review by the CATO Institute, the chances of an American dying in a terrorist attack committed by a foreigner
in the US stands at about one in 3.6 million
. The breakdown includes attacks
over a 41-year period
and includes the 9/11 attack
, in which 3,000 people died. Once you narrow it to refugees
and and illegal immigrants
, the threat is even smaller
Other, more prevalent risks to life put it in perspective
Again, the threat of terrorism needs to be --and is -- taken seriously, but there are thousands of other phenomena
that claim more American lives.
Even so, the statistics above don't tell the whole story. For instance, in 2016, the number of Americans killed in terrorists attacks in the US was unusually high because of the Orlando nightclub shooting, which claimed 49 lives and is considered an act of terrorism carried out by a Muslim extremist. However, it's important to remember that attack was also the deadliest terrorist attack -- and the deadliest mass shooting -- in the US since 9/11.
On the other hand, the gun violence
statistics do not include
suicides by firearm, which usually hover around or above 20,000 per year