Study of Tweets Shows Washington State Is Most Welcoming to Refugees

Alex Grubbs | August 9, 2016 | 3:37pm EDT
Font Size


Supporters of refugee resettlement rally outside the state Capitol in Olympia, Wash. on Nov. 20, 2015. (AP photo)

( – Based on thousands of tweets, Washington State is the most welcoming to refugees of all the 50 states, a recent study analyzing certain hashtags on Twitter since January 2015 found.

Tweets from January 2015 to June 2016 with the hashtags #refugees, #openborders, #refugeeswelcome, #migrants, #safepassage, #syrianrefugees, #refugeecrisis, #rapefugees, and #buildawall were gathered and analyzed by the apartment-finding firm ABODO and the International Rescue Committee (IRC), a humanitarian aid organization.

The study scored the tweets using certain criteria. Hashtags like #refugeeswelcome earned one point, while hashtags like #NoMuslims took one point away.

Based on the number of positive and negative tweets regarding refugees, Washington State received a score of 0.65, making it the most refugee-positive of all 50 states. Maine followed with a score of 0.62, while Utah scored 0.54 for third place.

The study also found that New Yorkers posted the most tweets (93.47 tweets) about refugees per 100,000 residents, followed by Alaska (91.62), Nevada (91.33) and Arizona (91.14).

“America has a proud history of protecting, providing refuge for, and welcoming the world’s most vulnerable, and this new research overwhelmingly reinforces and supports that tradition,” Jennifer Sime, IRC’s senior vice president of U.S. Programs, said in a press release.

Mississippi was considered the least refugee-positive state and received a score of 0.20.

In November, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant posted on Facebook that he “will do everything humanly possible to stop any plans from the Obama administration to put Syrian refugees in Mississippi” due to the possible dangers.

Back in February 2015, House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) warned that due to vetting issues, admitting Syrian refugees would be “very dangerous and reckless.”

Postive tweets regarding refugees hit its peak in September. ABODO and IRC attributed the spike to the highly publicized death of Aylan Kurdi, a three-year-old Syrian boy who drowned in the Mediterranean Sea and whose body washed ashore in Turkey.

But October to November 2015 had the most overall refugee-related tweets due to the Syrian refugee crisis, which caused a 663 percent tweet increase on the subject, the study found.

Last October, the State Department announced it would admit 85,000 refugees from around the world into the U.S. in FY 2016, including 10,000 Syrian refugees.

Demonstrators on opposing sides of the refugee resettlement issue square off in front of the Washington State Capitol. (AP photo)

The following month, Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee criticized his fellow governors who objected to the resettlement, saying that "our nation and our state" should "welcome refugees fleeing oppression and conflict in other nations." 

The U.S. has admitted 9,424 Syrian refugees since 2011, with 7,551 being admitted since last October, according to the State Department.

Florida and California had the highest overall numbers of resettled refugees in FY 2015. 

The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) at the Department of Health & Human Services reports that in FY 2015, Florida had a refugee population of 48,656, mostly from Cuba, followed by California with 10,520 refugees, mostly from Afghanistan.

Washington State had a refugee population of 3,088 in FY 2015, including 588 from Iraq, 467 from Ukraine, 414 from Burma, 361 from Somalia, 302 from Afghanistan, and 29 from Syria, according to ORR. 

As of July 31, Syria headed the list of most refugees admitted into the U.S. (2,340) last month,  according to the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.

mrc merch