Series: Refugee Resettlement In Wisconsin

Fleeing conflict and persecution around the world, refugees are a small but significant part of Wisconsin's population. While it's not the biggest destination for resettlement in the United States, the state is home to thousands of people who arrived as refugees from several dozen countries. A Hmong community took root across Wisconsin in the 1970s, and a small Somali community settled in rural Barron County in the 1990s, but large numbers of refugees from countries including Burma, Iraq and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have arrived in the 21st century. People seeking refugee status in the U.S. — which is distinct from other kinds of immigration — have gone through an extensive vetting process, but a rise of xenophobia and new federal policies threaten to make their position more uncertain.
 
Wisconsin isn't the biggest destination for refugee resettlement by far, but the multi-year decline in the state accompanies a similarly dramatic nationwide trend.
As the United States increasingly closed its doors to refugees fleeing conflict and persecution around the world, resettlement numbers across the nation and in Wisconsin dropped by about two-thirds.
The refugee resettlement process in the United States is wracked by uncertainty.
Between 2002 and 2016, nearly 14,000 refugees fleeing violence and persecution around the world resettled in Wisconsin. Of this group, more than 5,000 were from a single nation in southeast Asia: Burma.
When President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Jan. 27 halting immigration to the United States from seven majority-Muslim countries, confusion, fear and protests ensued at airports across the country as border patrol agents held up incoming refugees and foreign nationals who already had green cards.
President Donald Trump's executive order banning refugees from seven majority-Muslim countries makes exceptions for religious minorities.
Rula and Abdul plied the narrow aisles of Madison's Istanbul Market on Tuesday, looking for spices and other staples, such as dried jute leaves, that are hard to find in their new country.
Every single refugee among multitudes around the world has their own individual story, their own experience of fleeing danger and seeking a better life elsewhere. One family that escaped Syria and moved to Wisconsin offers an example of the personal scope of this vast crisis.
Refugees and their resettlement in the United States have taken on a higher profile in recent years, owing in large part to ongoing war in Syria and the subsequent displacement of millions of people.
Federal funding to refugee resettlement programs has been halted by President Donald Trump's executive order placing a 120-day ban on refugees entering the United States.