View the chart: Refugees
Idaho first began receiving refugees in 1975 through the Indochinese Refugee Assistance Program. These first refugees were from Southeast Asia. Over the years, the national origin of refugees arriving in Idaho has undergone several shifts. Since 2000, the earliest year for which Idaho refugee data could be obtained, the most common country of origin has changed from Bosnia & Herzegovina to Uzbekistan to Bhutan. About 730 refugees came to Idaho in 2011. While this is fewer than states like Texas and California, which each welcome thousands of new refugees every year, Idaho receives more refugees per population than all but three other states. In recent years, the largest number of refugees worldwide have come from Afghanistan and Iraq. While Iraq became one of the biggest sending countries well after the beginning of the Iraq War, Afghanistan has been the largest sending country every year since 1981.
The data used in this graphic are drawn from state, national, and international data. Idaho data were provided by the Idaho Office of Refugees. This private organization oversees and coordinates the work of refugee resettlement agencies in Idaho. They also maintain data on the country of origin and year of arrival of refugees coming to Idaho. Other state data is collected by the Office of Refugee Resettlement under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which provides resources to refugees in the U.S. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees collects extensive data on refugees and other displaced people. It should be noted that their data on refugee origins includes refugees who have sought asylum in one country, then returned to their country of origin. These people are counted as refugees leaving the country in which they sought asylum, which results in larger numbers of refugees counted as leaving places such as the U.S. and Western Europe. Additionally, these numbers exclude approximately 4.6 million Palestinian refugees, residing in Gaza, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and the West Bank, a population excluded from the UNHCR’s mandate and covered instead by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency of Palestinian Refugees in the Near East.
Refugee admissions to the United States are subject to many variables, but are primarily responsive to the worldwide need for the protection of refugees in vulnerable situations. Every year, the President, after consultation with the Congress, determines the number of refugees that will be admitted to the United States and the global regions from which these refugees will originate. The offer of resettlement opportunities to specific refugees and groups of refugees is based on the situation in the country of origin, the risk to persons if they were returned to their homelands, the level of protection offered in the country of residence and the humanitarian interest of the United States in offering protection through resettlement. Because of these multiple factors and the ever-changing geopolitical landscape, refugee flows change over time. Some refugees are able to return home eventually, while others will be able to remain safely in their countries of first asylum for long periods. The U.S. response to global conditions results in new refugee groups being offered resettlement opportunities and existing groups eventually no longer needing this form of protection
The resettlement dynamic in Idaho follows national trends very closely. The actual number of refugee arrivals to Idaho varies from year to year based on an equally complex equation, but is primarily determined by the capacity of our state to effectively resettle them and provide opportunities for self-sufficiency and integration.
The responsibility of the Idaho Office for Refugees is to assure that refugees throughout the state have access to the services and assistance they need to start their lives over in a new country and a new community. It is critical that services be provided in a culturally and linguistically appropriate manner. As a result, as demographics shift, new learning must take place and new strategies must be developed to meet the challenge of serving of a diverse refugee population. We work collaboratively with the resettlement agencies and develop programs and training opportunities to continually adapt service delivery to changing circumstances.
Idaho will continue to be a source of resettlement opportunities for one to two percent of the refugees admitted to the United States each year, but the capacity of resettlement communities to integrate new arrivals will remain dependent of factors such as employment opportunities, housing availability and the language resources available to ease the transition for new populations of refugees.Jan A. Reeves Director, Idaho Office for Refugees and April Hoy Research Assistant, Boise State University To explore the data firsthand, visit our Refugees interactive graphic. Graphic by April Hoy
For further information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org .