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The difference between refugees and asylees

On Behalf of | Feb 14, 2020 | Asylum/Refugee Status

Many people come to the U.S. every year seeking protection from persecution in their native country. There are notable differences, however, between a refugee and an asylee. Typically, the difference has to do with whether a person has already made it inside of the United States at the time of application.

According to The Department of Homeland Security both refugees and asylees and either unable or unwilling to return to their native country due to fear of persecution. The persecution that these people are trying to avoid can be as a result of their:

  • Religion
  • Race
  • Political stance
  • Nationality
  • Membership in a group that is being persecuted in their country

Refugees are people who have already fled their country but are not already present in the U.S. Asylees, on the other hand, meet all the same definitions but are currently in the U.S. or are at a port of entry seeking asylum.

The Whitehouse.gov fact sheet on immigration laws claims that current asylum laws are being misused. To combat this, President Trump added a new bar to the legislature in 2019 that restricts access inside the U.S. Immigrants that would qualify in the United States per the definition will not gain asylum protections unless they have already applied for protection in at least one other country first. This is assuming that the country they applied to legally offers asylum and they had to travel through it to get to the U.S.

Many opponents to the new bar argue that this latest restriction may be too aggressive when it comes to limiting immigration into the United States. President Trump maintains, however, that “this rule is a lawful exercise of authority provided by Congress to restrict eligibility for asylum.”