Mostly True
Trump
"We admit more than 100,000 lifetime migrants from the Middle East each year."

Donald Trump on Sunday, June 12th, 2016 in a statement after a terrorist attack in Orlando

Donald Trump correct that U.S. gives 100,000 green cards a year to migrants from Middle East

We fact-checked a claim from Donald Trump's statement following the terrorist attack on an LGBT nightclub in Orlando.
Muslims pray at the Islamic Society of Central Jersey, (Bryan Anselm for The Washington Post)

In a statement after an attack on an LGBT nightclub in Orlando that killed at least 50 people, Donald Trump warned that such attacks would continue as long as the United States opens its doors to Muslim immigrants.

"We admit more than 100,000 lifetime migrants from the Middle East each year," Trump said in the June 12, 2016, statement. "Since 9/11, hundreds of migrants and their children have been implicated in terrorism in the United States. Hillary Clinton wants to dramatically increase admissions from the Middle East, bringing in many hundreds of thousands during a first term – and we will have no way to screen them, pay for them, or prevent the second generation from radicalizing."

In this fact-check, we’ll look at Trump’s assertion that "we admit more than 100,000 lifetime migrants from the Middle East each year." (We’ll leave it to readers to decide whether that’s too many, too little, or just right.)

We will start by noting that "lifetime migrants" is not a commonly used term in the immigration-policy world, and the Trump campaign did not respond to an inquiry for this article.

However, after checking with experts, we feel confident that Trump meant to describe people who are given permanent residency. Specifically, he was referring to the number of people each year who receive "green cards" -- the documentation for permanent residency in the United States, which enables the bearer to apply to become citizens within three to five years.

The Department of Homeland Security tallies these numbers by publishing annual statistics for "persons obtaining lawful permanent resident status" by country of birth. (By and large, refugees are included in this total, though they account for just a fraction of all green-card recipients.)

The trickiest part of checking Trump’s math has to do with what should be considered "the Middle East."

Trump is correct if you use a somewhat expansive definition of the "Middle East." Here’s a rundown by countries and number of new green cards issued in 2014, the most recent year for which full data is available. We’ve listed them in descending order by number of green cards issued.

 

Country

New green cards in 2014

Iraq

19,153

Pakistan

18,612

Iran

11,615

Egypt

11,477

Afghanistan

10,527

Jordan

5,187

Turkey

3,834

Israel

3,805

Morocco

3,605

Syria

3,540

Yemen

3,492

Lebanon

3,245

Saudi Arabia

1,696

Algeria

1,669

Kuwait

1,057

United Arab Emirates

1,039

Libya

524

Tunisia

429

Qatar

202

Bahrain

122

Oman

90

Total

104,920

 

That total represents slightly under 10 percent of green card recipients from around the world, which amounted to 1,016,518 in 2014.

Some may quibble with the inclusion of certain countries on this list, since they arguably lie outside a strict definition of the Middle East. These include countries that might be considered to be part of central Asia (Afghanistan and Pakistan), countries that might be considered to be in north Africa (Algeria, Libya and Tunisia), and one country that is partially in Europe (Turkey).

If you subtract the green cards from each of those countries, the number falls to just under 70,000, which would make Trump’s claim somewhat exaggerated.

However, experts we checked with don’t think it’s unreasonable in common conversation to include such countries as Afghanistan, Libya and Pakistan in the Middle East, particularly given how intertwined those countries have become with the United States’ Middle East policy in recent years.

Given Trump’s focus on support for Islamic extremism, it’s also worth a reminder that country of origin is not the same thing as religious affiliation.

"The Census Bureau does not gather data by religious affiliation, so it would not be possible to disaggregate minority-religion populations from this region, such as Coptic Christians and Chaldean Christians, that have sought and received refugee status," said Michelle Mittelstadt, a spokeswoman for the Migration Policy Institute. And many of the immigrants from Israel -- another country included in the chart above -- are Jewish.

And a final technical note: While Trump used the word "admit" in reference to migrants getting green cards, Mittelstadt noted that slightly more than half of all green cards issued annually are given to people who are already in the United States, but who have a different immigration status. So the connection between obtaining a green card and someone’s entry into the United States can be separated in time.

Our ruling

Trump said, "We admit more than 100,000 lifetime migrants from the Middle East each year."

A strict definition of the region produces a number closer to 70,000. But adding in other countries that most Americans would consider to be in the Middle East, such as Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkey, brings the number to 100,000 or more. It’s also worth remembering that not all immigrants from these countries are Muslim.

All in all, the statement is accurate but needs clarification, so we rate it Mostly True.

https://www.sharethefacts.co/share/43e8d534-e493-4d5e-b38a-f156a7c0fc7a