Refugee, Asylum Seeker, Immigrant?
Government organizations and major charities using terms like "refugee," "asylum seeker," and "immigrant" have contributed to the upswing in illegal border-crossers. By using these and many other misleading words to describe people walking into the U.S. without legal authorization, they promote lawlessness.
These agencies are in fact treating illegal aliens as though they have gained refugee status, and therefore all the rights and benefits of legal residence.
The following definitions are taken from the nonprofit U.S. Committee on Refugees and Immigrants:
An individual who is outside his or her country of origin due to a well-founded fear of persecution based on race, religion, nationality, social group or political opinion who is unable to, or owing to such a fear, unwilling to avail him- or herself of the protection of that country. The definition is sometimes expanded to include people fleeing war or other armed conflict.
An individual outside his or her country of origin seeking refugee status based on a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, social group or political opinion, but whose claim has not been legally substantiated. Often, an asylum seeker must undergo a legal procedure in which the host country decides if he/she qualifies for refugee or another form of legal status. International law recognizes the right to seek asylum, but does not oblige states to provide it.
The definition of immigrant/permanent resident alien according to the Department of Homeland Security:
An alien admitted to the United States as a lawful permanent resident. Permanent residents are also commonly referred to as immigrants; however, the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) broadly defines an immigrant as any alien in the United States, except one legally admitted under specific nonimmigrant categories (INA section 101(a)(15)). An illegal alien who entered the United States without inspection, for example, would be strictly defined as an immigrant under the INA but is not a permanent resident alien. Lawful permanent residents are legally accorded the privilege of residing permanently in the United States. They may be issued immigrant visas by the Department of State overseas or adjusted to permanent resident status by the Department of Homeland Security in the United States.
So, we can “strictly” speaking call an illegal alien an immigrant by INA interpretation, but we should not call them refugees or asylum seekers just because they are fleeing poverty and gang violence.
No matter what anyone calls people breaking the law to enter the country, it appears that government and nonprofit agencies charged with processing them intend to avail this population of all the benefits of legalized residents.
With all the lawlessness going on, why even have definitions of terms?
Ann Kane is editor of Watchdog Wire North Carolina. You can e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.