Shadows of group of people walking through the sunny streets with painted United States of America flag on the floor.

Where refugees in California are arriving from

Written by:
February 8, 2024
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 January 2024, 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 January 2024.

January refugee statistics
Countries where refugees arrived from in January
To California:
#1. Afghanistan: 401
#2. Guatemala: 78
#3. Iraq: 69
#4. Syria: 61
#5. Congo: 27
#5. Russia: 27
#7. El Salvador: 17
#8. Venezuela: 16
#9. Nicaragua: 14
#9. Ukraine: 14
#11. Armenia: 13
#12. Iran: 12
#13. Sudan: 10
#14. Honduras: 9
#15. Pakistan: 7
#15. Belarus: 7
#17. Burma: 6
#18. Algeria: 3
#18. Congo: 3
#20. Senegal: 2
#20. Cameroon: 2
#20. Georgia: 2
#23. Moldova: 1
#23. Eritrea: 1
#23. Somalia: 1

To the U.S. as a whole:
#1. Afghanistan: 1,723
#2. Congo: 1,695
#3. Syria: 1,356
#4. Burma: 765
#5. Guatemala: 540

States that accepted the most refugees in January:
#1. California: 803
#2. Texas: 779
#3. New York: 645
#4. Pennsylvania: 492
#5. Arizona: 401

Read on to see the countries that California has accepted the most refugees from since the start of the fiscal year in October 2023.

Afghan women in burkas pass by a man outside a market
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#1. Afghanistan

Refugees that arrived from Afghanistan since October 2023
To California: 998

To the U.S. as a whole: 4,626
Top states receiving refugees from Afghanistan
#1. California: 998
#2. Virginia: 530
#3. Texas: 377
#4. Washington: 327
#5. Maryland: 199

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

#2. Syria

Refugees that arrived from Syria since October 2023
To California: 325

To the U.S. as a whole: 5,837
Top states receiving refugees from Syria
#1. New York: 616
#2. Michigan: 558
#3. Pennsylvania: 419
#4. California: 325
#5. Ohio: 315

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

#3. Guatemala

Refugees that arrived from Guatemala since October 2023
To California: 177

To the U.S. as a whole: 1,325
Top states receiving refugees from Guatemala
#1. California: 177
#2. North Carolina: 103
#3. Texas: 97
#4. Florida: 77
#5. New York: 69

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Focus and Blur // Shutterstock

#4. Iraq

Refugees that arrived from Iraq since October 2023
To California: 136

To the U.S. as a whole: 676
Top states receiving refugees from Iraq
#1. California: 136
#2. Michigan: 88
#3. Washington: 38
#4. Nebraska: 36
#5. Texas: 35

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

#5. Iran

Refugees that arrived from Iran since October 2023
To California: 93

To the U.S. as a whole: 175
Top states receiving refugees from Iran
#1. California: 93
#2. Texas: 14
#3. Illinois: 9
#3. Washington: 9
#5. Georgia: 8

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

#6. Armenia

Refugees that arrived from Armenia since October 2023
To California: 87

To the U.S. as a whole: 93
Top states receiving refugees from Armenia
#1. California: 87
#2. South Carolina: 5
#3. Oregon: 1

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

#7. Ukraine

Refugees that arrived from Ukraine since October 2023
To California: 83

To the U.S. as a whole: 625
Top states receiving refugees from Ukraine
#1. Washington: 208
#2. California: 83
#3. Ohio: 37
#4. New York: 34
#5. Florida: 32

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

#8. Moldova

Refugees that arrived from Moldova since October 2023
To California: 65

To the U.S. as a whole: 225
Top states receiving refugees from Moldova
#1. Washington: 74
#2. California: 65
#3. Florida: 18
#4. Oregon: 13
#5. Minnesota: 10

An aerial view of El Salvador.
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#9. El Salvador

Refugees that arrived from El Salvador since October 2023
To California: 61

To the U.S. as a whole: 486
Top states receiving refugees from El Salvador
#1. California: 61
#2. Texas: 50
#3. North Carolina: 48
#4. Virginia: 45
#5. Maryland: 42

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

#10. Congo

Refugees that arrived from Congo since October 2023
To California: 54

To the U.S. as a whole: 7,408
Top states receiving refugees from Congo
#1. Kentucky: 685
#2. Texas: 636
#3. Arizona: 541
#4. Ohio: 513
#5. New York: 471

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

#11. Nicaragua

Refugees that arrived from Nicaragua since October 2023
To California: 41

To the U.S. as a whole: 640
Top states receiving refugees from Nicaragua
#1. Florida: 135
#2. Minnesota: 44
#3. California: 41
#4. Washington: 34
#5. Tennessee: 33

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

#12. Belarus

Refugees that arrived from Belarus since October 2023
To California: 33

To the U.S. as a whole: 122
Top states receiving refugees from Belarus
#1. California: 33
#2. Washington: 30
#3. Massachusetts: 16
#4. New York: 14
#5. Pennsylvania: 8

An aerial view of caracas, Venezuela.
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#13. Venezuela

Refugees that arrived from Venezuela since October 2023
To California: 32

To the U.S. as a whole: 1,274
Top states receiving refugees from Venezuela
#1. Florida: 268
#2. Texas: 157
#3. Tennessee: 76
#4. North Carolina: 62
#5. Illinois: 59

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

#14. Russia

Refugees that arrived from Russia since October 2023
To California: 31

To the U.S. as a whole: 129
Top states receiving refugees from Russia
#1. Washington: 34
#2. California: 31
#3. Oregon: 17
#4. North Carolina: 15
#5. Minnesota: 11

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Matyas Rehak // Shutterstock

#15. Sudan

Refugees that arrived from Sudan since October 2023
To California: 29

To the U.S. as a whole: 572
Top states receiving refugees from Sudan
#1. Pennsylvania: 42
#2. New York: 34
#3. Tennessee: 32
#4. Georgia: 31
#5. Ohio: 30

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amnat30 // Shutterstock

#16. Honduras

Refugees that arrived from Honduras since October 2023
To California: 20

To the U.S. as a whole: 369
Top states receiving refugees from Honduras
#1. Texas: 75
#2. Florida: 40
#3. Georgia: 21
#4. New York: 20
#4. California: 20

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Omri Eliyahu // Shutterstock

#17. Kazakhstan

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

To the U.S. as a whole: 87
Top states receiving refugees from Kazakhstan
#1. Washington: 31
#2. California: 19
#3. Oregon: 10
#3. Pennsylvania: 10
#5. Massachusetts: 5

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

#18. Pakistan

Refugees that arrived from Pakistan since October 2023
To California: 17

To the U.S. as a whole: 399
Top states receiving refugees from Pakistan
#1. Pennsylvania: 57
#2. Texas: 45
#3. North Carolina: 36
#4. Virginia: 33
#5. New York: 25

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

#19. Somalia

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

To the U.S. as a whole: 957
Top states receiving refugees from Somalia
#1. Minnesota: 332
#2. Ohio: 85
#3. Arizona: 61
#4. New York: 54
#5. Georgia: 48

A horse-drawn taxi passes through a busy shopping area
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Chantal de Bruijne // Shutterstock

#20. Burma

Refugees that arrived from Burma since October 2023
To California: 14

To the U.S. as a whole: 2,073
Top states receiving refugees from Burma
#1. Illinois: 218
#2. New York: 200
#3. Texas: 189
#4. Georgia: 142
#5. Indiana: 138

A distant view of homes on a hillside in Haiti.
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#21. Haiti

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

To the U.S. as a whole: 66
Top states receiving refugees from Haiti
#1. Pennsylvania: 16
#2. Georgia: 8
#2. California: 8
#4. Illinois: 4
#5. Colorado: 3

An aerial shot of Tashkent TV Tower in Uzbekistan at sunset.
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#21. Uzbekistan

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

To the U.S. as a whole: 38
Top states receiving refugees from Uzbekistan
#1. New York: 13
#2. Washington: 12
#3. California: 8
#4. Ohio: 4
#5. Minnesota: 1

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

#23. Eritrea

Refugees that arrived from Eritrea since October 2023
To California: 6

To the U.S. as a whole: 536
Top states receiving refugees from Eritrea
#1. Washington: 51
#2. Maryland: 49
#3. Texas: 47
#4. North Carolina: 33
#5. Ohio: 32

A distant view of Mount Victoria in Cameroon.
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#24. Cameroon

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

To the U.S. as a whole: 70
Top states receiving refugees from Cameroon
#1. Pennsylvania: 10
#2. Texas: 9
#3. Massachusetts: 6
#4. California: 5
#5. New Jersey: 4

Cars, people and mopeds on the streets of Kinshasa.
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Katja Tsvetkova // Shutterstock

#25. Congo

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

To the U.S. as a whole: 95
Top states receiving refugees from Congo
#1. Massachusetts: 15
#2. Illinois: 11
#3. Virginia: 9
#3. Pennsylvania: 9
#5. New York: 8

A distant view of Constantine, Algeria.
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#25. Algeria

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

To the U.S. as a whole: 5
Top states receiving refugees from Algeria
#1. California: 3
#2. Maryland: 1
#2. New York: 1

An arial view of Tbilisi, Georgia.
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#25. Georgia

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

To the U.S. as a whole: 31
Top states receiving refugees from Georgia
#1. Washington: 20
#2. Pennsylvania: 4
#3. California: 3
#4. Indiana: 2
#4. New York: 2

People walking on the street in Aksum
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Artush // Shutterstock

#25. Ethiopia

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

To the U.S. as a whole: 124
Top states receiving refugees from Ethiopia
#1. Minnesota: 38
#2. Washington: 14
#2. Georgia: 14
#4. Ohio: 12
#5. North Carolina: 6

An aerial view of Kingston, Jamaica.
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#29. Jamaica

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

To the U.S. as a whole: 13
Top states receiving refugees from Jamaica
#1. California: 2
#1. Colorado: 2
#1. Michigan: 2
#1. North Carolina: 2
#1. Ohio: 2

Women beside fishing boats on the beaches of Yoff
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Salvador Aznar // Shutterstock

#29. Senegal

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

To the U.S. as a whole: 42
Top states receiving refugees from Senegal
#1. Massachusetts: 13
#2. Ohio: 4
#2. Texas: 4
#4. Illinois: 3
#4. Pennsylvania: 3

An aerial view of Lome, Togo.
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#31. Togo

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

To the U.S. as a whole: 1
Top states receiving refugees from Togo
#1. California: 1

This story features data reporting and writing by Emma Rubin and is part of a series utilizing data automation across 45 states.

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