Refugee Informational Post: Community Outreach

Discussion in 'Servant of All' started by Calen Velervron, Aug 22, 2018.

  1. Calen Velervron

    Calen Velervron Gaidin

    Jan 9, 2017
    Hot Springs, Arkansas
    Questions, Concerns, Ideas or other comments can be sent to

    Many of the residence of Tar have expressed concern, outrage and sadness over the state of the refugee situation occurring at the southern border of the United States. The Tower in an official form does not seek to take a political stance about the policy of politics in the United States but we would like to provide information on what a refugee is and other facts about the crisis.

    If any group or individual would like to find ways to help you are more than welcome to post that information below. Any comments found to be purposefully incendiary or harmful to the conversation or the mission of helping others will be moderated. We thank you for your time and attention.

    The following information is taken from the International Rescue Committee

    Who are refugees and displaced persons?
    They are men, women and children fleeing war, persecution and political upheaval. They are uprooted with little warning, enduring great hardship during their flight. They become refugees when they cross borders and seek safety in another country. They are displaced when they are forced to flee their homes, but remain within the borders of their native country.

    The 1951 United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, as amended by its 1967 protocol defines a refugee as a person who "owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country..."

    Who cannot be a refugee?
    The United States will not recognize persons who have participated in war crimes and violations of humanitarian and human rights law, including the crime of terrorism, as refugees. They are specifically excluded from the protection accorded to refugees.

    What is the difference between a refugee and a migrant?
    Refugees are forced to flee their homes and seek safety in another country, often times without warning. Migrants are people who make a conscious decision to leave their countries to seek a better life elsewhere.

    How many refugees and displaced persons are there, and who makes up the majority of the refugee population?

    Right now there are more than 60 million forcibly displaced people in the world, according to the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR. Just over half were uprooted by conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia.

    Half of all refugees are children.

    What are the options for resettlement?
    Most refugees and displaced persons return to their communities when peace and stability return to their country. When conditions in countries of origin remain unstable or there is a danger of persecution upon repatriation, some refugees are able to stay in a refugee settlement in another country. Unfortunately, many host countries are unable to accept refugees permanently. Resettlement in a third country, such as the United States, is the last option, and is available to only a tiny fraction of the world's refugees.

    The United States has a tradition of offering refuge to those fleeing persecution and war. The U.S. government maintains a long-established humanitarian program that grants sanctuary in this country to a limited number of refugees who cannot safely return home or stay in a host country. The IRC annually helps as many as 10,000 refugees resettle in the United States.

    How many refugees have the opportunity to resettle?
    Very few refugees are ever even considered for resettlement. There are three internationally accepted durable solutions for refugees:

    • Voluntary repatriation. Refugees return to their former country of nationality when conditions prevail that allow return in safety and dignity;
    • Local integration. Local settlement and integration of refugees in their country of first asylum upon receiving agreement from the host country;
    • Resettlement. Most frequently used for refugees whose life, liberty, safety, health or human rights are at risk in the country where they have sought refuge. Resettlement to a third country becomes the primary objective or priority when there is no other way to guarantee the legal or physical security of the refugee.
    How does the U.S. determine if a refugee is eligible for resettlement?
    Applicants for refugee admission to the U.S. must satisfy the following criteria:

    • The definition of a "refugee" as determined by U.S. government officials.
    • Be among those refugees determined by the President to be of special humanitarian concern to the U.S.
    • Be otherwise admissible under U.S. law.
    • Not be firmly resettled in any foreign country.
    Although a refugee may meet the above criteria, the existence of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program does not create any entitlement for that person to be admitted to the U.S.

    How many refugees does the U.S. accept for resettlement?
    The United States accepts a limited number of refugees each year. The President in consultation with Congress determines the authorized target for refugee admissions through a Presidential Determination.

    How do refugees make it to the United States?
    The Department of State's Bureau for Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) oversees the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program through U.S. embassies worldwide. The State Department develops application criteria and refugee admission levels and presents eligible cases for adjudication by officers of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

    USCIS officers travel to the country of asylum to interview refugees who fall within the priorities established for the relevant nationality or region. The USCIS officers interview potential applicants to determine whether or not they are refugees as defined under U.S. law. A refugee of any nationality may be referred by UNHCR, however this does not guarantee admission to the U.S., for they must still qualify under U.S. law.

    Upon completion of security and medical screening, the USCIS officer may approve the refugee's application for U.S. resettlement. After approval, arrangements are made for his/her placement with a U.S. voluntary agency and travel to the U.S.

    What happens to refugees when they come to the United States?
    Refugees must rebuild their lives from traumatic and tragic circumstances. The majority embrace their newly adopted homeland with tremendous energy and success. They go on to work, attend universities, build professions, purchase homes, raise children and contribute to their communities. Ultimately refugees obtain citizenship and become fully participating members of society. They become Americans.

    Many refugees come to the United States without any possessions and without knowing anyone. Other refugees come here to be reunited with family members. All refugees receive limited assistance from the U.S. government and non-profit organizations like the IRC. We help refugees find housing, learn about life and customs in America, secure jobs, learn English, and become citizens. We provide most of the basic things they need to restart their lives here and we help them overcome cultural barriers so that their adjustment is as easy as possible.

    We have reached out to a member who has more expertise in this area for help with this edit. This member provided the following information:

    Who are refugees and displaced persons?

    Displaced persons is a generic term, if they do not cross state borders they are referred as internally displaced persons. The logic is that a lot of reasons can force people to leave their homes. For example it could be a natural disaster. Fleeing the said disaster people can cross borders or not. Still they are displaced persons (they left more or less because they didn't have a choice). If they cross borders and the reason they flee is listed in the Refugee Convention, then we start talking about asylum seekers and refugees.

    Refugee status in the USA is different than what is understood by most countries. A person is a refugee if they enter US after being granted the status while being out of the country via the US embassy for instance. But if a person formally meets the criteria of being a refugee which for you are incorporated in section 101(a)(42) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, and they apply for refugee status either in one of the ports of entry or from inside USA if they entered without any status (illegally) or on different ground (tourist visa for example), they are regarded as asylee or asylum seekers.

    Asylum seekers in US have basically two ways to apply for asylum depending on whether they are subject to removal procedure already. If they are, they apply defensively, this is the way people at ports of entry apply. If they are not in a removal procedure, they apply for the so called affirmative asylum, if they are not granted one they are referred to the immigration court for removal proceeding where they can apply for asylum once again but this time defensively.

    Asylum seekers must apply for asylum in one year after arriving in the USA. It is important to note that often the asylum seekers do not know about this rule, or face systematic barriers that prevent them to file the application in time which becomes to sole reason their application is denied.

    Regarding detention of asylum seekers: US law provides the right for asylum seekers to stay in the territory of the US while their claim is being processed. It is the interpretation of the US government that they need to detain such individuals (which is very much against what UNHCR stated on the matter). It is a matter that is constantly under fire and there are a number of cases against this policy. Especially since the whole procedure can take years during which people are basically in prison without being criminals. There is a solid research indicating that people who are detained develop numerous mental and physical disorders and they are five time less likely to secure legal aid for the proceeding which severely decreases their chances of getting asylum. (Here's a link:

    In section: What is the difference between a refugee and a migrant?

    On the difference between migrants and refugees I wouldn't say it's a matter of conscious decision. It's always a matter of decision. Sometimes migrants' decision to leave is influenced by factors that force refugees to leave. Imagine the following scenario: 2 families living in one city in Syria, the first family leaves 1 years before the second because they saw a bomb destroying their neighbor's house, they have young kids and they feel they are forced to leave as soon as possible. The second family believes they are going to make it through the war, they are very much attached to the land and their city, they leave after a family member is killed. Every person has a breaking point at which they believe they have no choice but to move or die. Still, it's a decision and it's different for every one of us. After this breaking point is passed we talk about people being forced to move.

    As you may notice fleeing war is not mentioned in the definition of refugee status. UNHCR has the practice of issuing guidelines that advice states to recognize people fleeing certain conflicts as refugees. This understanding is based on the opinion the Convention doesn’t require the persecution to be individual and that most wars target and persecute people based on one of the criteria in the Convention. Example: Syria – political opinion.

    In section: How does the U.S. determine if a refugee is eligible for resettlement?

    Refugees chosen to be resettled in the USA are not only selected by those who are of ‘special concern’ but also individuals with compelling persecution needs or those for whom no other durable solution exists. Unlike the special concern category these group are referred by UNHCR or by US embassies. The third priority group consists of members of the immediate family of refugees already settled in the USA (by this I mean parents, spouses and unmarried children under 21).

    There are also a number of grounds that prevent participation in the resettlement scheme besides being firmly resettled in another country. More info in section 212(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. For some reason polygamy being one of the exceptions.