Refugees, Illegal Aliens and Asylees: What’s the Difference?
Different regulations are in place for different groups of people who seek to come to this country to escape danger. Judges with training in the evaluation of the evidence presented by each prospective newcomer are needed, to determine which regulations should apply. This becomes a problem when unusually large numbers need to be processed.
There are three main groups.
Those from any country, who cross the border illegally, can be subject to deportation.
Those from any country, who present themselves either at a U.S. Consulate, or at any official border crossing into this country, and ask for asylum, have the right to a series of hearings which result in their either being accepted as asylees, or being repatriated. This can take two or more years. While they are awaiting hearings they are under responsibility and the federal funding of Homeland Security. Unaccompanied minors in this category first are screened to determine if they are in real danger if returned to their country of origin. Those who pass that screening are given “Refugee Protection Status”, and required to have further hearings with Immigration officials. Many have relatives in the U.S. and are placed with them while awaiting follow-up meetings. Others are placed in foster homes during their wait.
Those from any country, who are designated officially as refugees, by the United Nations, and have also been screened and accepted by immigration officials from the U.S., before setting out for this country, are permitted to enter and work here. Federally funded resettlement agencies assist them initially, but they are expected to learn English, become citizens, and become self-sufficient very quickly. The funding for this group comes through the Office of Refugee Resettlement.
The regulations in each case do not preclude special circumstances being considered at the hearings to determine the fate of each newcomer.
RefugeeNet works with the third group, identifying gaps in the social services safety net and preventing officially designated refugees from falling through those gaps. If a refugee family relocates to San Diego County, from elsewhere in the U.S. any initial federal funding that might still be available to them does not follow them. They arrive with no furniture or household items, and need considerable help. About one-third of those RefugeeNet serves fall into that category. The other two-thirds are newly arrived refugees, with needs that fall outside the confines of federal funding, and refugees who have been here for some time, but have met some new complication in their lives and need help understanding what options are open to them and how to access training or find resources.