Where have they moved from, and where do they live?
In the aftermath of the Paris terrorist attacks, the governors of more than two dozen states — overwhelmingly Republican — have made it clear to Syrian refugees that they are unwelcome within their borders — even though governors do not have the authority to ban refugees.
But Washington Gov. Jay Inslee issued one of the strongest proclamations of welcome to refugees from Syria and other countries. Interviewed Nov. 18 on NPR, Inslee recalled when Japanese people were rounded up and sent to internment camps during World War II for fear of disloyalty. “We regret that, we regret that we succumbed to fear,” he said. “We shouldn’t do that right now.”
Washington has taken in Syrian refugees, but not very many. According to data from the U.S. Department of State, 2,352 Syrians have been admitted to the U.S. as refugees since 2003, but just 38 have settled in the state. Of those, 17 moved to Seattle and eight to Kent.
But the overall refugee picture is quite different: Washington has welcomed 32,898 refugees since 2003, representing 4.3 percent of the total number entering the U.S. That ranks us 7th among the states, according to the data from the State Department. California has taken in the most refugees — 88,032 — followed by Texas, New York, Florida, Minnesota, Arizona and Washington, in that order.
At the other end of the spectrum, only one refugee has settled in Wyoming.
Many of the refugees who have settled in Washington are from the Middle East or majority-Muslim countries, with Somalia ranking third and Iraq fourth among the top countries for refugee groups settling here.
As you’d expect, more refugees have settled in Seattle than any other place in Washington — nearly one-third of the total. Somalis, numbering 2,560, are the largest refugee group in the city.
But among Washington’s cities, Tukwila and Kent stand out for the number of refugees relative to their size: close to 4 percent of each of the those cities’ total populations.
Explore the data on our online interactive map of King County places.