More corrections needed: Asylum seeker vs. Refugee

Let me say that I am glad to see that new readers arrive here daily, but long time readers, please accept my apologies for repeating information you already know.

Commenter ‘Kansasdudess‘ said this yesterday in a comment to my post on about Twin Falls, Idaho, here.

“id like to point out that in every country except the us refugees are not placed into actual communities..they are housed in refugee camps..geeze if they knew they were going to live in camps and not in sociey with full benefits they wouldnt come..who the hell decided they need to be placed in regular society???!!!! when did refugee status become perminant status? refugee means they go home too…”



First, here at RRW we are mostly focused on the present US Refugee Admissions Program established by law in 1980—The Refugee Act of 1980.

Ted and Joe
“Who the hell decided?” asked our commenter.  Senators Ted Kennedy and Joe Biden with other Democrat Senators decided in 1979. The Refugee Act of 1980 was then signed in to law by President Jimmy Carter.  Congress and the President decided 38 years ago, and if you want to change it now, Congress and the President must decide.

Briefly, refugees, as defined by the Act’, are people we have located abroad (mostly with the help of the UN now) who claim they would be persecuted if returned to their home countries—persecuted for their race, religion, political views and so forth.

We fly them to the US and through US State Department resettlement contractors (nine non-profits) we place them in hundreds of US towns and cities.  They are here legally (permanently) and they are on a track to US citizenship.

You are not to be faulted for being confused about the word ‘refugee’ because the Leftists and No Borders activists around the world have done their best to make you think that anyone on the move around the world for any reason is a refugee deserving of special treatment. They are not. Most are economic migrants, some are getting away from civil wars at home, and some are criminals.

But, here the word refugee has a very specific meaning and is used for those who are legally here through the US Refugee Admissions Program.

As for Kansasdudess’s assertion that around the world “refugees” are in camps.  Yes, in some places they are, but the vast majority of migrant asylum seekers (they are NOT legal refugees yet) are free in many countries until their asylum claim has been processed—think Germany, Italy, France, the UK etc. etc.  There they live mostly in special housing and are free to move about in the community. (There is increasingly more talk in Europe about building detention centers.)

Asylum seekers and Asylees

So what is asylum?  That is when migrants of some sort go to another country on their  own initiative and then ask for asylum claiming they will be persecuted in their home country if they are returned.

The asylum process is being abused around the world.

All of those Africans and Middle Easterners flooding Europe are not refugees. Some may be able to prove (through an asylum process) that they should get the first class treatment afforded legitimate refugees, but most are economic migrants looking for a better life.  I repeat: they are NOT refugees until they are given asylum status.

Here in the US our immigration system is being scammed now as thousands cross our borders and ask for asylum.  If they get through the asylum process and are judged to be legitimate refugees, we call them asylees.  And, then, just like the refugees we flew in, they can stay and take advantage of the many benefits life in America will give them (including ultimately citizenship).

(I explained asylum here and here, just a few weeks ago!)

So in summary, the word ‘refugee’ used at this site refers to a class of LEGAL immigrant. They are flown here by our government. They are here to stay. They can work. They can get welfare. They will eventually become US citizens.

And, if an asylum seeker can make his or her case through a legal process, then that person can say they are a refugee as well.

Bottomline: words matter! 

Don’t fall for the Left’s broad definition of refugee. Everyone on the move around the world is NOT a refugee.

9 thoughts on “More corrections needed: Asylum seeker vs. Refugee

  1. Thank you Ann for disambiguating “refugee” and “asylum seeker”, or “asylum”; a little while back I thought about bringing up that issue on this site myself. But the distinction seems subtle, and ripe for confusion. My take is perhaps that asylum seekers travel on their own dime, to a specific country, more or less independently of any migratory flow, and request asylum; whereas refugees are thought of as fleeing a particular place involuntarily, perhaps in large numbers at a particular time and place, and there’s some hope by some that some of them may return home someday. I understand that “Refugee” in this context means those covered by the evil Kennedy/Biden Refugee Act of 1980, and that granting Asylum may be thought of as something else entirely, and perhaps prior to 1980, or after it, but doesn’t this ultimately amount to the same thing? Just a change in terminology to invoke a new approach, but one that is really a simple increase in the amount of asylum granted. If you think of the two words, “refuge” and “asylum”, they’re very nearly synonyms.


    1. The modern asylum system was set up in the Refugee Act of 1980 as well. Best to think of the difference only in whether we pluck them from abroad or they get here on their own dime and ask for asylum. I described in a post not too long ago that I attended the 30th anniversary ‘celebration’ for the Refugee Act and the speakers were all pleased as punch that there were so many people headed our way to ask for asylum. They said that they expected only the occasional Russian ballet dancer to ask for asylum, but were overjoyed at the huge numbers coming now especially as they were realizing that there were limits to the number of refugees who might be brought in through the regular refugee process …and that was before Trump came on the scene! Something these refugee industry advocates could never have imagined a few years ago.


      1. Thanks Ann for nailing down that distinction between Refugee and Asylum Seeker, etc.

        I must say the image of groups of people actually CHEERING at the news that hordes of non-English speaking, largely uneducated alien Muslims who know nothing of American values, history, lifestyle, religions and Democracy, are invading our country, gives me the willies all over. What a betrayal of our country!! And why would you celebrate such a miserable, painful situation as people that are homeless due to poverty and war anyway? They’re like the brainless zombies on that British plane who came passionately to the defense of the convicted rapist and criminal being lawfully deported, and attempted to set him free. They’re simply rootless, alienated, deracinated, hopeless relativists who have no moral center. They don’t really believe anything except the Big Lie that everyone in the world is somehow “equal”, and that no one should ever be hurt, no matter what they’ve done.


  2. I put together an interviewing training program for USCIS Adjudicators. I then was the primary instructor for delivering the program to many classes. I had plenty of the students, who had already been adjudicating many, many asylum cases. In discussions with these students I learned that they had no previous training involving interviewing techniques. The main focus during their previous training was concentrated on immigration law, use of computers, and the asylum process.

    It was common for these adjudicators to write their notes contemporaneously during the interviews. Meaning they were busy with entering data, not judging the veracity of the applicants. If you intend to be deceitful during an interview, it goes in your favor if the person conducting the interview isn’t studying you.

    Another common statement I heard from these seasoned adjudicators was they quickly learned it was much easier on them, if they granted asylum, rather than deny the application. Far less work, and aggravation.

    I doubt things have changed since I left the program.


  3. Excellent Ann, I think it would be a great idea to begin rounding up all refugees, placing them in camps and sending them home after they have been here for their allotted time rather than allowing the libs to make them future voters… I mean US citizens…


  4. I would just add that to your statement, “most are economic migrants looking for a better life. ” Many are migrants looking to complete the Hijra which is to spread Islam throughout the world which is mandatory in Islam. Let’s not overlook that. I think of that video of Ami Horowitz where he interviewed some Muslims in Cedar Riverside in Minneapolis where they stated they didn’t want to be here but had to because of the Hijra and to spread islam.

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