Under the Trump administration, Christians now make up an increasing share of refugees entering the US, reversing a trend that had seen Muslim immigration outnumber that of Christians under President Obama.
The news comes from assessment of the US State Department's refugee data by Pew Research Centre. Since Trump's inauguration on January 21 2017 and up to June 30, 9,598 Christian refugees have arrived in the US compared with 7,250 Muslim refugees. Christians have made up more than 50 per cent of refugee arrivals from February to June, while Muslims have made up 38 per cent.
In February, just 41 per cent of refugees were Christians, in June Christians became a majority at 57 per cent. Muslims went from accounting for 50 per cent of arrivals in February to just 31 per cent in June.
The number of Muslim majority countries topping the list of nations of origin for refugees has fallen too. In the first months following January 21, the top countries of origin for refugees were the Democratic Republic of the Congo (3,235), followed by Burma (Myanmar) (2,470), Iraq (1,923), Somalia (1,879), Syria (1,779) and the Ukraine (1,603).
Iraq, Syria and Somalia are majority Muslim countries, but from April-June, the only majority Muslim country among the top six origins was Iraq.
As the Pew study notes, US immigration data has come under increased scrutiny after the controversial immigration orders of President Trump, who ordered restrictions on arrivals from seven Muslim-majority nations (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen), what was criticised as a 'Muslim ban'. Despite various opposition, a second order of Trump's was partially reinstated by the Supreme Court last month.
Pew notes that 'it's not clear why the religious composition of refugees to the US has changed since February', considering 'Trump's revised executive order signed in March states no religious preference for refugee admissions'.
The effects of Trump's policy are still hard to gauge, since many of those who have arrived since February applied for asylum before Trump's inauguration. The refugee application process usually takes between 18-24 months to complete, so it's not clear yet how the religious affiliation of refugee applicants – yet to be admitted – has shifted in the past few months.