CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The number of refugees taking shelter in the United States has slowed to a trickle following new security measures put in place by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Meanwhile, Catholic refugee resettlement offices across the country are left waiting, uncertain when the flow of refugees will begin again -- and when it does, how many refugees may be allowed to enter the country.
Last year, the United States welcomed 75,417 refugees -- people escaping religious or political persecution, poverty, natural disasters and more.
The number is determined every year by the president in consultation with Congress; the slots are divided among different regions of the world. In October, President Barack Obama authorized 80,000 refugees be accepted during fiscal year 2011, which runs from October 2010 to September 2011.
Each year, the U.S. bishops' Migration and Refugee Services and its diocesan affiliates resettle between 27 percent and 28 percent of the total number authorized to come to the United States, with other aid organizations helping the rest.