How does the US screen refugees? Very carefully

Updated 1:53 PM ET, Mon March 6, 2017

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Being a refugee isn't easy. Neither is getting into the United States.

Just gaining refugee status is hard; most of the millions who seek it don't get it. Of those who do, only a fraction end up resettled in the US.
The process takes an average of 18 to 24 months, and most of it's conducted outside the US.
Here's how it works:

It's a long and winding road

  • The UN screens them: Refugees are people who are forced to flee their home country to escape persecution, war or violence. The UN decides the most vulnerable cases and refers them for resettlement.
  • They're out if they've committed a violent crime: The UN only refers those whose life, liberty or health are at significant risk. If someone is found to have committed a crime, that person doesn't qualify for resettlement.
  • The US does its own vetting: This process involves eight federal agencies, six different databases, five separate background checks, four fingerprint and biometric checks, three in-person interviews and two inter-agency checks.
  • Then, it vets some more: If allowed to come to the US, refugees face another screening before embarking, and another security check at a US airport.
  • Refugees begin a new life: If everything works out fine, the State Department assigns refugees to an NGO that helps them find work and housing.

Historically, the US has been very hospitable

  • Since 1975, the US has resettled more than 3.3 million refugees. Last year, it took in 84,994, mostly women and children.
  • But that's just a drop in the bucket. The UN estimates there are 21.3 million refugees in the world. Turkey hosts the most: 2.8 million.

Most refugees come to the US from just 10 countries

  • The country that sent the most refugees to the US last year was the Democratic Republic of Congo.
  • Trump also banned all citizens of six countries from entering the U.S. for three months: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.
  • Of the six countries targeted by Trump, only three were in the top 10 countries that refugees come from.
  • One of the countries in the list, Libya, sent just one.

How many refugees came from the countries on Trump's list