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A Quick Guide to Refugees and Political Asylum



By Features Desk




Thursday, June 8, 2017.



The humanitarians in many of us care a lot about the issues of refugees and immigration in general. But with so many stories in the news these days about the subjects - ranging from powerful, inspiring stories to condemnation; from pleas for help to warnings of impending dangers - it can be hard to get our heads around the actual politics and legalities of these issues.


It would, perhaps, be beneficial if more of us were to have a better grasp of refugees and political asylum. Not so much the causes of these things - they are many, and it would take a long time to consider them all - but from a slightly colder, more objective view. That is to say, how the lawmakers and governments of our country see the matter from a legal and political perspective.


First of all, there’s the matter of asylum seekers and refugees as an actual status. People known as asylum seekers or refugees are generally recognized to have a need to enter another country in the hopes that that country will consider their status as a form of legal protection. And in order for a government to consider their status as such, there has to be a clear threat to their safety back home.


While a board certified immigration attorney can help those emigrating from one country to another in a range of circumstances, governments will tend to look specifically at the nature of the danger that the person’s home country presents to them. If there is a threat of legal persecution, then this is the strongest argument in favor of allowing the person in as a domestically-recognized refugee or asylum seeker. ‘Persecution’ covers a wide range of potential punishments, from imprisonment, political alienation (such as denial of suffrage), or even violence and death.




But what are the ‘accepted crimes’? Persecution in a given country is the result of having committed what would be considered a crime in that country, or of having a particular status that the government find problematic. In the United States, there are generally five things that are accepted as unjust enough reasons for foreign persecution to meet the requirements for refugee or asylum status: your nationality, skin color, religion, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion.


However, those who fall under these categories and are seeking entry into the United States may still find that they’re blocked for other reasons. There are, of course, a plethora of concerns and potential legal problems specific to the current political administration, but let’s look at the more general and less well-documented issues.


One of the most concerning for government officials is an applicant who has been proven to have engaged in the unjust persecution of others in their home country. While they may be suffering similar consequences now, those who have been part of the persecution of others based on race, religion, nationality, social group, or political opinion, in a governmental or guerilla group capacity, will probably be denied entry.


But perhaps more prevalent - and relevant to many discussions of refugees these days - is the issue of someone having already found firm resettlement in another country. If you emigrated from your home country as a refugee and resettled in another country, then you are no longer a refugee - and this applies to far more modern cases than many Americans think.


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