WASHINGTON (CN) – The U.S. will admit 80,000 refugees seeking asylum in 2011, according to a memorandum from President Barack Obama to the Secretary of State.
The number of refugees admitted under the Immigration and Nationality Act and the Migration and Refugee Assistance Act have remained the same since 2008 when former President George W. Bush raised the ceiling from 70,000.
Refugees differ from immigrants in that they are admitted into the country for special humanitarian concerns-usually under resettlement agreements the U.S. has reached with groups who have been allies in regional conflicts such as Vietnam and Iraq.
Admission numbers are allocated regionally with a small reserve set aside for emergent needs. For 2011, 35,500 refugees will be admitted from the Near East/South Asia Region, including Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam. Other allocations are: Africa, 15,000; East Asia, 19,000; Europe and Central Asia, 2,000; Latin America/Caribbean, 5,500; Unallocated Reserve, 3,000.