In the wake of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, 26 governors have pledged not to allow Syrian refugees to settle in their states. The proclamations led to heated debates over whether Syrians ought to be allowed to settle in the United States at all or whether — as New York Sen. Chuck Schumer put it — "a pause may be necessary."
There's a key fact missing in these big political fights: States are not, currently, being overrun with Syrian refugees. Quite the opposite; data shows only a tiny fraction of Syrian refugees have settled within American borders. The United States has, since 2013, resettled fewer than 2,000 refugees — a mere 0.05 percent of all Syrian refugees worldwide.
The United States has resettled 1,999 Syrian refugees since 2013
The civil conflict in Syria has displaced more than 12 million people. Most of them — about 7 million—are internally displaced within Syria. Among the ones who leave, most flee to neighboring countries such as Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq. But many of these countries cannot cope with the enormous influx of refugees, which is creating instability in the region. Some refugees are dispersed among communities and urban areas, but many end up in refugee camps.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has asked Western countries to offer resettlement opportunities, humanitarian admissions, and family reunification to Syrian refugees. In two years, 152,014 refugees have been resettled in host countries. Only 1,999 refugees have settled in the United States. Other countries with smaller populations have accepted many more refugees. Neighboring Canada, for example, has a population about a tenth the size of the United States — but has resettled 19 times as many refugees since 2013.
These figures show that while there's a big political debate about where Syrian refugees can live, the United States has seen only a small handful settle within our borders in recent years.