How would YOU define a refugee? It may seem self explanatory....but is it?

It's like nailing jello to the wall....But it must be defined AND understood to be able to face our ever increasing global threats of various kinds.

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Normally, it's someone seeking refuge. Refuge from an intolerable situation, including life-threatening situations. 

I like that definition.

I'm not sure there's another that's significantly different?

I don't think the problems associated with Syrian refugees, etc, would be ameliorated if they were called something else or not...I think the problems always stem from a society's fears that newcomers will "dilute them".

So, whoever is here now is all we care about.  If we let new people in, we have to feed them and shelter them, and then they take our jobs and marry our daughters.

No one thinks about how THEIR ancestors got there...the doorway is always built by whoever is concerned about the need for a door.

Once YOU'RE in, its about keeping anyone after you, out.


So, sure, refugees are different from normal immigrants, in that they might be showing up with only the cloths on their backs, and BE needy.

But they are ALSO people in great NEED because they are fleeing from something worse.

At sea, you save those in trouble.  On land, there's no such rule per se...but, really, would that be so bad?

Your neighbor's house is on fire, and its zero degrees outside, and they ran out in their pj' that when you offer to let them come in and get warm, or ask if they set it on fire themselves, might steal your stuff?

Taking them in doesn't mean they are your kids now and have to pay for their college and weddings, etc...its refuge.


How would YOU define a refugee?

One who seeks refuge. Nothing like jello, to me. If you seek refuge, you are a refugee. I think the most important thing to realise is that anyone can fit into multiple labels at a time. Refugee doesn't MEAN anything other than that the person is seeking refuge. Just like Atheist doesn't MEAN anything other than disbelief in gods. On their own, they are insufficient to describe anything useful about a person.

to face our ever increasing global threats of various kinds.

I assume this post is in relation to recent events in Syria and France. The point I was making above is that being a refugee doesn't automatically mean someone is NOT a terrorist. I'm so sick of the facebook posts saying that refugees aren't terrorists... the two labels aren't mutually exclusive, therefore it is entirely possible to be both. Caution and compassion are the way forward, in my opinion.

Matt - that makes sense to me too.

There was a passport found from a Syrian refugee at the attack, and, we don't know if it was a plant (Quite possible - by either the attackers themselves to sow discord/distrust/hinder those trying to escape them in Syria, or by some one with a political motive, etc), or simply dropped by one of the attackers who was careless about his passport, such that in his haste to escape/fight back, opened his wallet or whatever and it fell out/was blown out in an explosion, etc.

So, it IS possible that terrorists would infiltrate the refugees, TO hinder their successor's ability to escape (IE: Countries stop accepting them, so, they have no where to escape TO), and creating the fear of the refugees, so they are treated in a way that makes them isolated/not accepted into the new in the interests of the bad guys.

To me though, as there is a process to keep track of refugees, its worth the risk to be compassionate and help them escape from the same bad guys we're fighting.

We will end up with more recruits for that fight than the terrorists will.


it IS possible that terrorists would infiltrate the refugees

Frankly, if there aren't terrorists in a swarm of refugees this large, I would be truly shocked. Think about it... if you have people willing to die, for your cause, in foreign countries, why WOULDN'T you use an opportunity like this to help you get them there.


About all there is to say on the matter

I wasn't actually thinking of "just" Syrian refugees when I wrote this.

How do you define something as "intolerable requiring refuge." Who gets to decide what constitutes a situation requirIng refuge?

If you are a refugee because you seek refuge, can I say I'm a refugee based on my own subjective experiences, or is there an objective way to define a refugee...NOT tHinking about Syria for a second. Remove "terror" and "war" and think broader. If a refugee is seeking refuge from an intolerable condition, what do you define an "intolerable conditIon" to be?

I suppose in practice it comes down to the governments that are accepting the refugees, or a common agreement in the case of the EU, and what they choose to define as intolerable. 

David Cameron has said the UK will accept refugees from refugee camps in the middle East, because they're the poorest of the poor who can't afford to travel across Europe, and their condition is therefore the most intolerable. 

I think it will always be subjective.

Think of it as analogous to a law suit.

You can sue anyone for anything.

It may be thrown out though.

The same for refugees.  Lets say you are fleeing a country because you are unable to tolerate the yearly Black Friday Sale they have...and you show up at a border with a country you fled to to escape that horror.

They may tell you to suck it up and go back home, or, agree that the horror is unbearable and to let you in.

Notice that in the case of Syria for example, Nazi Germany in WWI, Cuba since Castro, etc, some countries have accepted refugee status for those fleeing, and some turned them away.

Its always the case.  The accepting country makes the determination as to your refugee status and how they will treat you.

Legal Definition of Refugee:


Any person who is outside any country of such person's nationality or, in the case of a person having no nationality, is outside any country in which such person last habitually resided, and who is unable or unwilling to return to, and is unable or unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of, that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. 8 USCSection 208(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (Act), 8 U.S.C. S 1158(a), gives the Attorney General discretion to allow political asylum to any alien the Attorney General determines to be a "refugee" within the meaning of section 101(a)(42)(A) of the Act, 8 U.S.C. S 101(a)(42)(A).A refugee is defined as an alien unwilling to return to his or her country of origin "because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion." Id. To establish eligibility on the basis of a "well-founded fear of persecution," the alien's fear of persecution must be both subjectively genuine and objectively reasonable. Arriaga-Barrientos v. INS, 925 F.2d 1177, 1178 (9th Cir. 1991). "The objective component requires a showing by credible, direct, and specific evidence in the record, of facts that would support a reasonable fear of persecution." Id. at 1178-79. The applicant has the burden of making this showing. Fisher v. INS, 37 F.3d 1371, 1376 (9th Cir. 1994).

Section 243(h) of the Act, 8 U.S.C. S 1253(h), requires the Attorney General, subject to certain exceptions, to withhold deportation "if the Attorney General determines that such alien's life or freedom would be threatened . . . on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion." Courts have held that an alien is statutorily eligible for such relief if he or she demonstrates a "clear probability of persecution." Arriaga-Barrientos, 925 F.2d at 1178. This standard is generally more stringent than the "well-founded fear " standard applicable to requests for asylum, and can be met only by showing that it is more likely than not that the alien will be persecuted if deported. Acewicz v. INS, 984 F.2d 1056, 1062 (9th Cir. 1993). Therefore, failure to satisfy the lesser standard of proof required to establish eligibility for asylum necessarily results in a failure to demonstrate eligibility for withholding of deportation as well. Arriaga-Barrientos, 925 F.2d at 1180.

So, its subjective.


The definition of a refugee is simple. The definition who is acceptable to receive refugee status and be taken in is complicated. 

To qualify as a refugee in the United States takes about two years as I understand it, because the government vets them pretty thoroughly. This doesn't bode too well, I suppose, for a refugee with a fairly UNdocumented life.


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