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As Congress moves forward with immigration reform, we take a look at how this issue connects to culture, business and families in the Northwest.Our region is home to a unique blend of immigrants who work in all parts of our economy — from high-tech to agriculture. This population already has a deeply-rooted history here. And its ranks are expanding rapidly.Proposals for comprehensive immigration reform address border security, employment verification, guest-worker programs and pathway to citizenship for an estimated 11 million unauthorized immigrants in the US.

How many refugees are temporarily banned from WA state?

Washington refugees world map
KUOW/Kara McDermott
Between 2010 and 2016, more than 16,504 refugees came to Washington state from 46 countries. The majority came from Iraq, Myanmar, Somalia, Bhutan and Ukraine.

Nearly 25,000 immigrants and refugees in Washington state could be directly affected by an order signed last week (picture SafeCo Field almost half-full). Let’s break those numbers down. 

President Trump’s executive order ended the Syrian refugee resettlement program in the U.S., immediately and indefinitely, and suspended all refugee admissions for four months.

Who does that affect in Washington state? 

We introduced you to one family. But there are plenty more we haven’t met.

Of the 84,995 refugees the U.S. admitted in fiscal year 2016, Washington state settled 3,907 (Office of Refugee Immigrant Assistance, DSHS.). Many arrivals were refugees being reunited with families already living here.

So how many more people could be prevented from coming here?

It’s hard to say.

The U.S. Department of State had approved 3,800 refugees to arrive in Washington state in fiscal year 2017. The state welcomed 1,561 refugees between October and December.

“For the past several years, Washington has welcomed more than the original number of expected arrivals,” Sarah Peterson, refugee coordinator with the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, wrote in an email to KUOW.

“It is difficult to estimate how many refugees are in ‘limbo,’" Peterson added, "as the set number can fluctuate.”

Since the conflict in Syria started in 2012, Washington state has taken in 232 refugees from that country.

How many immigrants in Washington could be blocked by the 90-day travel ban?

Meanwhile, chaos at the airport may have settled but the travel ban still prevents almost anyone from seven countries (Iraq, Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan) from entering the U.S.

The ban appears to affect green card renewal applications. And WBUR reports that all visas from these countries are being revoked.

So many people locally could be affected by the order. 

According to Census data, more than 20,610 of people in Washington are thought to be from those countries. Here’s the breakdown*:      

Iraq: 3,500
Iran: 7,200
Syria: 760
Yemen: 460
Somalia: 7,760
Sudan: 930

*These numbers don’t include children born here of immigrant parents, nor exact numbers from Libya as available data lumps several countries together under “North Africa.”

Have you been directly impacted by the executive orders on immigration? Contact us.

Year started with KUOW: 2006