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The United States has surpassed Germany as the largest recipient of new asylum applications worldwide, according to a new report this week from the United Nations Refugee Agency.

Expand chart
Data: UNHCR, Forced Displacement in 2017 report; Chart: Harry Stevens/Axios

The big picture: This revelation comes as the polarizing immigration debate in the U.S. and Europe is getting more divisive. The European Union has been bitterly divided over the migration of refugees, while President Trump has said that the U.S. "will not be a refugee holding facility" under his administration.

What’s happening now:
Key findings:
  • There was an overall reduction in asylum applications last year — to 1.9 million, after 2.2 million in 2016 and 2.5 million in 2015, according to the report.
  • Of the 1.9 million, the U.S got 331,700, making it the largest recipient of new asylum applications. That doubled the 172,700 asylum claims from the previous two years combined.
  • Yes, but: Only 65,600 asylum decisions were made during Trump’s first year in the White House — and there’s a backlog of 642,700 requests. 43% of the United States' overall requests are from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.
  • Meanwhile, applications plummeted by 73% in Germany between 2016 and 2017 — from 722,400 down to 198,300. This drop has been linked to the closure of a travel route through the Balkans in 2015.
  • Italy received the third largest number of new asylum applications — 126,500 — in 2017, and Turkey came in fourth with 126,100.
Go deeper:

Go deeper

By the numbers: Catholics, Biden and abortion

Expand chart
Reproduced from Pew Research Center; Chart: Axios Visuals

President Biden — the second Catholic U.S. president — will meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Friday, as some church leaders debate whether to deny Holy Communion to politicians who support abortion rights.

By the numbers: Overall, two in three U.S. Catholics believe Biden should be allowed to take Communion despite his stance on abortion, according to polling by Pew Research Center.

Texas House probes school library books dealing with race and sexuality

Photo: Brittany Murray/MediaNews Group/Long Beach Press-Telegram via Getty Images

Texas state Rep. Matt Krause (R), chair of the Texas House Committee on General Investigating, announced Wednesday that he's initiating a probe into schools' library books, according to a letter sent to the state's education agency and other superintendents.

Why it matters: The probe focuses on books that discuss race, sexuality, or "make students feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress because of their race or sex," Krause wrote in the letter.

5 hours ago - World

Iran agrees to resume Vienna nuclear talks in November

Ali Bagheri (R) with Enrique Mora in Tehran on Oct. 14. Photo: Iranian Foreign Ministry handout via Getty

Iran's new chief nuclear negotiator said following a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday that Iran would resume negotiations in Vienna before the end of November, with the exact date to be set next week.

Why it matters: The Vienna talks have been frozen since Iran's new hardline president, Ebrahim Raisi, was elected in June. This is the most direct commitment from Raisi's government to return to the negotiating table.