Each year, a maximum of 70,000 refugees enter the United States, according to Jeff Guo at the Washington Post. On Thursday, President Barack Obama announced the nation would welcome 10,000 refugees from war-torn Syria in the coming year. According to the newspaper’s analysis, between 2013 and 2014, Kentucky ranks high in terms of absorbing this new population. The Commonwealth is listed in the top 20 percent of states, with more than 68 refugees per 100,000 residents over that two year span.
Following up on a recent map that charted the geography of immigrant populations in Louisville and across the nation, this news helps to explain the human element beyond dots on a map. Guo is careful to note that the term refugee has some semantic nuances, and certainly does not represent the entire scope of immigration. According to the Post:
“refugee” is a technical term that applies to people who apply for protected status from outside of the U.S. This can be a long and frustrating process. People fleeing crises in their home countries can also try to first come over on a tourist or business visa, and then apply to stay permanently — to seek asylum. These people aren’t considered refugees, bureaucratically speaking. Rather, they are counted separately, as asylum-seekers.
Speaking about the Syrian crisis in particular, the BBC this week profiled Louisville and the Kentucky Refugee Ministries for its work in helping find homes, jobs, and a sense of community for Louisville’s newcomers. The report followed one refugee named Mohamad Alkenss who now works in a car factory here. Watch the video report below (or here if the video doesn’t load):
In January, the Courier-Journal‘s Chris Kenning reported that several dozen Syrian refugees were arriving in the city. The newspaper noted that since the onset of violence in Syria, some 3.8 million people have been forced to leave the country. According to the report:
Kentucky, home to two Louisville resettlement affiliates, has taken in 6,428 refugees since 2011, including 1,113 from Iraq, according to the State Department figures. That has left the area with resources and interpreters that could make it a landing spot for Syrians, Koehlinger said, though exact numbers are unknown.
Find out more about Kentucky Refugee Ministries on its website. Among its many programs, the Kentucky Refugee Ministries administers the Pedal Power Project that fixes up donated bikes to give to refugees in need of sustainable transportation. You can learn more about Alkenss’ story in in a recent newsletter from KRM.