With more than 50 million displaced people and refugees in the world, the topic of refugees is an important one — and often a confusing one. Common misconceptions cause confusion, and the refugee crisis and resettlement process often go misunderstood. Chris Lovingood, Executive Director of Nations Ministry Center, helps clarify who a refugee is with nine things we need to know, and we believe this is important information with which to be armed.
Refugees are persecuted.
They are persecuted because of their religion, their race, their nationality. They have fled for their lives. They are not simply seeking a better life economically. They are trying to stay alive.
Refugees have no hope of returning to the country of persecution.
Refugees who are resettled in the United States have no hope of resettlement to a second country. They have nowhere to go.
Refugees are a (small) subset of immigrants.
There are many kinds of immigrants to the United States. Refugees are a very tiny subset of that large, diverse group. Of the 1 million people who are granted green cards each year, about 6% are refugees.
Refugees go through a heavy vetting process.
Of the 75 million travelers to the United States each year, refugees are by far the most vetted of all travelers. They undergo multiple background checks and are intensively interviewed multiple times by roving bands of specially trained U.S. immigration officers. No traveler to the United States goes through the same kind of scrutiny as refugees do. Often this screening process can take up to two years.
The resettling of refugees is handled by the U.S. government.
For refugees to be resettled to the United States, the U.S. government must be involved. Immigration is a federal matter.
A lot is expected of refugees.
Refugees are expected to be full participants in their own betterment. Very little is handed to them when they arrive.
Many refugees are in debt when they arrive.
Refugees are loaned the money for their plane tickets to the United States and must begin paying back the loan once they get their first job.
Refugees must accept the first job they are offered.
Refugees must take the first job they are offered by their resettlement agency or risk losing the limited financial assistance they receive. Most financial benefits end six months after arrival. Refugees have to begin working very quickly once they arrive in the United States.
Refugees are legal immigrants.
Refugees are legal immigrants, must apply for green cards one year after arrival and can become U.S. citizens after being in the United States for five years.
Thank you to Chris Lovingood of Nations Ministry Center!