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Where refugees in California are arriving from

Written by:
November 16, 2023
Robsonphoto // Shutterstock

Where refugees in California are arriving from

During the past five decades, the U.S. has resettled over 3 million refugees, making it one of the leading countries for finding new homes for people fleeing violence, persecution, and war.

In 2021, then-President Donald Trump lowered the annual cap of refugees that could be admitted into the country to 15,000. Even as the Biden administration has raised the ceiling to 125,000, the annual number of refugees arriving in the U.S. didn't immediately bounce back to pre-Trump administration levels. The numbers are increasing though, with over 25,000 refugees arriving in the U.S. in the 2022 fiscal year, twice the 2021 total.

Refugee arrivals during the 2023 fiscal year dramatically outpaced the prior two years, reaching over 60,000 from October 2022 to September 2023.

In October 2023, the greatest number of refugees admitted by the U.S. came from Congo, Syria, and Afghanistan. Each nation faces a unique set of circumstances that can make their citizens unsafe if they stay in their home country.

For the last three decades, Congo, also called the Democratic Republic of Congo, has been struggling with a series of civil wars and internal battles that have left millions of people displaced, both internally and externally, with many people fleeing to neighboring countries. Syria has seen more than 5 million refugees flee to neighboring nations since 2011 while a longstanding civil war rages, with an additional 6.8 million people forced from their homes and seeking refuge elsewhere in the country. Afghan refugees have been fleeing to neighboring countries for decades, especially to Pakistan and Iran, which combined host over 8 million Afghans.

Stacker referenced data from the Refugee Processing Center to compile statistics on the number of refugees and their countries of origin resettled in California in October 2023.

People buying spices at a street market in Damascus
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hanohiki // Shutterstock

#1. Syria

Refugees that arrived from Syria since October 2023
To California: 152

To the U.S. as a whole: 1,907
Top states receiving refugees from Syria
#1. Michigan: 277
#2. California: 152
#3. New York: 129
#4. Pennsylvania: 124
#5. Illinois: 105

Afghan women in burkas pass by a man outside a market
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Canva

#2. Afghanistan

Refugees that arrived from Afghanistan since October 2023
To California: 103

To the U.S. as a whole: 744
Top states receiving refugees from Afghanistan
#1. Virginia: 122
#2. California: 103
#3. Illinois: 56
#4. New York: 50
#5. Georgia: 46

Armenian people emerge from a church in the city of Metsamore
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Sebastian Castelier // Shutterstock

#3. Armenia

Refugees that arrived from Armenia since October 2023
To California: 70

To the U.S. as a whole: 71
Top states receiving refugees from Armenia
#1. California: 70
#2. Oregon: 1

People shopping at Pieta Central market in Chisinau
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JackKPhoto // Shutterstock

#4. Moldova

Refugees that arrived from Moldova since October 2023
To California: 34

To the U.S. as a whole: 113
Top states receiving refugees from Moldova
#1. Washington: 39
#2. California: 34
#3. North Carolina: 8
#4. New York: 7
#5. Colorado: 5

Daily scene of tuktuks, street stalls and motorbikes in San Pedro
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Lauren Squire // Shutterstock

#5. Guatemala

Refugees that arrived from Guatemala since October 2023
To California: 26

To the U.S. as a whole: 217
Top states receiving refugees from Guatemala
#1. California: 26
#2. North Carolina: 22
#3. Texas: 15
#3. Illinois: 15
#5. Kentucky: 11

People gather in a urban park on the streets of Tehran
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Andrew V Marcus // Shutterstock

#6. Iran

Refugees that arrived from Iran since October 2023
To California: 25

To the U.S. as a whole: 53
Top states receiving refugees from Iran
#1. California: 25
#2. Washington: 6
#3. Georgia: 4
#3. Texas: 4
#5. Michigan: 3

Pedestrians and traffic on the streets of Almaty
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Omri Eliyahu // Shutterstock

#7. Kazakhstan

Refugees that arrived from Kazakhstan since October 2023
To California: 19

To the U.S. as a whole: 58
Top states receiving refugees from Kazakhstan
#1. California: 19
#2. Washington: 12
#3. Oregon: 10
#4. Massachusetts: 5
#4. Tennessee: 5

Elevated view of Baghdad street scene
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Focus and Blur // Shutterstock

#7. Iraq

Refugees that arrived from Iraq since October 2023
To California: 19

To the U.S. as a whole: 137
Top states receiving refugees from Iraq
#1. Michigan: 23
#2. Virginia: 20
#3. California: 19
#4. Washington: 13
#5. Texas: 12

Woman carries basket through street in Bukavu
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Katja Tsvetkova // Shutterstock

#9. Congo

Refugees that arrived from Congo since October 2023
To California: 15

To the U.S. as a whole: 1,920
Top states receiving refugees from Congo
#1. Kentucky: 305
#2. Arizona: 121
#3. Texas: 119
#4. lowa: 109
#5. Michigan: 104

Woman carrying child to Lviv train station on snowy day
10 / 23
Ruslan Lytvyn // Shutterstock

#10. Ukraine

Refugees that arrived from Ukraine since October 2023
To California: 13

To the U.S. as a whole: 109
Top states receiving refugees from Ukraine
#1. Washington: 47
#2. Ohio: 15
#3. California: 13
#4. Illinois: 7
#5. Alaska: 6

A panoramic view of Minsk, Belarus.
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karp5 // Shutterstock

#11. Belarus

Refugees that arrived from Belarus since October 2023
To California: 12

To the U.S. as a whole: 26
Top states receiving refugees from Belarus
#1. California: 12
#2. Pennsylvania: 8
#3. Washington: 6

People walking by a Cathedral in Granada, Nicaragua
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Milosz Maslanka // Shutterstock

#12. Nicaragua

Refugees that arrived from Nicaragua since October 2023
To California: 9

To the U.S. as a whole: 122
Top states receiving refugees from Nicaragua
#1. Florida: 35
#2. North Carolina: 19
#3. Washington: 9
#3. California: 9
#5. Minnesota: 8

An aerial view of caracas, Venezuela.
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Canva

#13. Venezuela

Refugees that arrived from Venezuela since October 2023
To California: 8

To the U.S. as a whole: 357
Top states receiving refugees from Venezuela
#1. Florida: 77
#2. Texas: 28
#2. Tennessee: 28
#4. North Carolina: 20
#5. Washington: 19

An aerial view of El Salvador.
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Canva

#14. El Salvador

Refugees that arrived from El Salvador since October 2023
To California: 6

To the U.S. as a whole: 106
Top states receiving refugees from El Salvador
#1. Virginia: 18
#2. North Carolina: 15
#3. Maryland: 14
#4. Arkansas: 7
#4. New Jersey: 7

Woman crossing road by Medlar Market in Asmara
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Dave Primov // Shutterstock

#15. Eritrea

Refugees that arrived from Eritrea since October 2023
To California: 5

To the U.S. as a whole: 110
Top states receiving refugees from Eritrea
#1. Maryland: 15
#2. Washington: 12
#3. Michigan: 11
#4. Pennsylvania: 8
#5. Kentucky: 7

People crossing a busy street near Moscow’s business center
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YuryKara // Shutterstock

#16. Russia

Refugees that arrived from Russia since October 2023
To California: 4

To the U.S. as a whole: 18
Top states receiving refugees from Russia
#1. Minnesota: 5
#2. California: 4
#2. North Carolina: 4
#4. Washington: 3
#5. South Carolina: 2

A distant view of homes on a hillside in Haiti.
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Canva

#17. Haiti

Refugees that arrived from Haiti since October 2023
To California: 3

To the U.S. as a whole: 26
Top states receiving refugees from Haiti
#1. Pennsylvania: 8
#2. California: 3
#2. Connecticut: 3
#2. New York: 3
#5. Georgia: 2

People walking on the street in Aksum
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Artush // Shutterstock

#17. Ethiopia

Refugees that arrived from Ethiopia since October 2023
To California: 3

To the U.S. as a whole: 35
Top states receiving refugees from Ethiopia
#1. Minnesota: 17
#2. Not Available: 5
#3. Georgia: 4
#4. California: 3
#5. Ohio: 2

Muslim woman in hijab waking on streets of Hargeisa
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Dave Primov // Shutterstock

#17. Somalia

Refugees that arrived from Somalia since October 2023
To California: 3

To the U.S. as a whole: 232
Top states receiving refugees from Somalia
#1. Minnesota: 95
#2. Ohio: 17
#2. Arizona: 17
#4. Illinois: 12
#4. Washington: 12

An aerial view of Kingston, Jamaica.
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Canva

#20. Jamaica

Refugees that arrived from Jamaica since October 2023
To California: 2

To the U.S. as a whole: 4
Top states receiving refugees from Jamaica
#1. California: 2
#1. Colorado: 2

Many people on a dirt street in Shendi
21 / 23
Matyas Rehak // Shutterstock

#20. Sudan

Refugees that arrived from Sudan since October 2023
To California: 2

To the U.S. as a whole: 92
Top states receiving refugees from Sudan
#1. Maryland: 22
#2. Tennessee: 16
#3. Missouri: 6
#4. Arizona: 5
#4. Texas: 5

Woman and child on busy market street of Copan
22 / 23
amnat30 // Shutterstock

#22. Honduras

Refugees that arrived from Honduras since October 2023
To California: 1

To the U.S. as a whole: 71
Top states receiving refugees from Honduras
#1. Texas: 22
#2. New York: 11
#3. North Carolina: 8
#3. Washington: 8
#5. Maryland: 6

People walking through the Chitta Gate in the old town area of Lahore
23 / 23
W_NAMKET // Shutterstock

#22. Pakistan

Refugees that arrived from Pakistan since October 2023
To California: 1

To the U.S. as a whole: 59
Top states receiving refugees from Pakistan
#1. New Jersey: 15
#2. Maryland: 7
#2. Pennsylvania: 7
#4. Arizona: 5
#4. Wisconsin: 5

This story features data reporting and writing by Emma Rubin and is part of a series utilizing data automation across 37 states.

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