Oct. 3 (UPI) — The United States admitted 12 North Korean refugees in 2017 — all of them before February.
Voice of America reported Tuesday the number of North Korean refugees for fiscal year 2017 which ended on Sept. 30, dropped dramatically after January when President Donald Trump assumed office.
The number of North Korean refugees granted asylum in the United States in 2017 is the third lowest on record.
In fiscal year 2014, the United States accepted eight North Koreans; and a total of nine defectors in 2006, according to VOA.
The North Korean Human Rights Act of 2004, signed into law by President George W. Bush, has allowed North Koreans to resettle in the United States, if they did not initially settle in South Korea or obtain South Korean citizenship.
As refugees North Koreans receive some financial support, including a monthly stipend of $200 to $300 for eight months to cover food and medical expenses.
After a year of residence, refugees are eligible for permanent resident status and after five years are permitted to apply for U.S. citizenship.
Of the 12 North Korean refugees admitted during former President Barack Obama‘s term, nine are women and three are men.
Five of the defectors resettled in Illinois, two each in Arizona and California, and one each in Colorado, Texas and Utah.
Admissions were down to zero starting in February, according to VOA, which stated in its report the combination of immigration restrictions and Chinese crackdown on North Korean defectors may be discouraging defections.
Beijing has repatriated North Korean citizens despite being a signatory to the United Nations Convention on Refugees.
There are now a total of 212 North Korean refugees in the United States, according to the U.S. State Department.