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Difference Between Immigrants and Refugees

refugeesImmigrants vs Refugees

History as we know it would not have been possible without the movement of people from one place to another. At the most basic level, if early man hadn’t walked out of Africa we would never have populated the entire globe. Much of American’s prosperity and history hinges on the migration of people to her shoes. At the same time, the history of Europe and Asia is profoundly affected by the movement of both individuals and large population groups. When one is speaking the migration of people, these migrants are generally immigrants or refugees.

Definition of Immigrant and Refugee
Immigrant ‘“ anyone that migrates from their country or region of origin to a different country or region. This movement can be voluntary or coerced.
Refugee ‘“ anyone that migrates from their country or region of origin for fear of persecution and, at the same time, feels that they will be unable to return to that area for fear of further persecution.

History of Immigrants and Refugees
While people have always traveled for one reason or another, it is only within the modern era that distinctions have been made between immigrants and refugees.
Immigrant ‘“ great waves of immigration took place after the discovery of the New World. Western European immigrants flocked to the Americas. Later on, the origin of the immigrants shifted to Eastern and Southern Europe. At this time, immigration became the government’s business. Immigrants were documented and processed before being allowed to enter the country. Today, nearly all countries have huge bureaucratic hurdles to legal immigration.

Refugee ‘“ the official status of refugees wasn’t legally recognized until the United Nations codified the term after World War II as so many people were fleeing from Eastern Europe. It was further expanded on as Asia and Africa were producing so many refugees in the latter half of the 20th century. Today, there is a distinction between a refugee and an internally displaced person. The former has crossed an international border seeking asylum, whereas the latter has merely moved from his home region, but kept within the political boundaries o his country.

Fundamental Difference Between Immigrants and Refugees
Immigrant ‘“ travel because of a push or pull factor. Their old country is pushing them out because of bad economic conditions or their new country is pulling them through promise of better education.

Refugees ‘“ travel because of fear. They feel if they stay where they are they will be detained, injured, or killed.

1. Immigrants and refugees are both foreigners that travel to a new country.
2. Immigrants generally travel voluntarily because of economic opportunity while refugees travel because of fear of persecution.
3. Immigrants have been documented and codified for hundreds of years, whereas refugees are considered a post World War II phenomenon.

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  1. I always thought that the refugee concept was included as a subgroup in the immigrant definition. I am glad I have this opportunity to learn more about this topic so I can be more compassionate to and a better teacher for our immigrant and refugee students.


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