This Sunday, June 20 is World Refugee Day, an annual event that honors refugees across the globe. This year also marks the 30th anniversary of the Refugee Act of 1980, the landmark legislation that reinforced the United States’ long-standing humanitarian commitment to refugees and asylum seekers.
Throughout our history, we have welcomed more refugees and asylum seekers than any other nation in the world. Since the enactment of the Refugee Act of 1980, approximately 2.5 million refugees have been resettled in the U.S. and approximately 500,000 asylees have been granted protection by our government. Almost 1.3 million of these refugees and over 165,000 asylees have gone on to become American citizens.
Last fiscal year, DHS’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) granted protection to over 11,933 asylum seekers and to more than 74,000 refugees from 79 countries. To safeguard the integrity of our refugee and asylum processes, USCIS engages in robust security screening, training, and quality assurance mechanisms – executed in close collaboration with other DHS components.
These efforts sometimes involve significant danger for USCIS personnel, who have traveled to war zones across the globe to conduct refugee status interviews to identify those who qualify – many of whom have assisted U.S. military efforts abroad – and ensure they can find protection and build new lives in the United States.
This World Refugee Day, I want to take a moment to commend these DHS employees, at home and abroad, for their dedicated service on behalf of refugees and asylum seekers. Thanks to their work, we are fulfilling an important humanitarian mission.