Why is it so hard for Palestinians to enter the U.S. as refugees?
Palestinians rescue a child after Israeli airstrikes in Gaza. (Abed Khaled/AP)
NBC News reports:
“Out of more than 60,000 total refugees resettled in the United States in fiscal year 2023, 56 Palestinians were admitted. In the past 10 years, fewer than 600 Palestinians in all have come to the U.S. as refugees, according to the State Department.
The numbers are so low in large part because Palestinians cannot follow the same pathway into the U.S. as other nationalities. The 1951 Refugee Convention that established the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and defined the criteria for refugees around the world explicitly left out Palestinians living in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza. The U.S. uses the refugee agency to identify potential refugees.
The U.N. has since established the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, but it provides only aid, not resettlement, according to its website.
Palestinians who do find their way to the U.S. as refugees may be coming from other parts of the world while they retain their Palestinian citizenship, or they may have been referred as refugees to the U.N. refugee agency by nongovernmental organizations, according to the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, which provides support to refugees entering the United States.