Refugees In America


A refugee is a person who fleeing persecution or armed conflict in his native land applies for asylum status in another country. In other words, a refugee is a person who seeks or takes refuge in a country different from his original home in order to escape war or persecution. In this context millions of refugees have settled across the globe since the end of the last world war. As expected, most people would seek refuge in countries that are relatively safe or welcoming.

The United States of America is the favourite destination for asylum seekers as available statistics show. Almost a fifth of all accepted asylum seekers among the OECD countries were those accepted into the U.S. Roughly 48,000 asylum seekers are accepted into the U.S., each year. The reasons for this are fairly straight forward. America is a country with liberal character and democratic ideals. The United States is renowned for its multiethnic, multicultural population, political stability and economic prosperity. America is the natural haven of rest for asylum seekers because its slogan of equal opportunity for all is very attractive. About 10% of all immigrants to the U.S., each year are asylum seekers. Since the late 1940s or after the last world war ended, it is estimated that more than two million refugees have immigrated into the U.S. However, for an asylum seeker’s application to be granted, several conditions must be satisfied.

Composition of Refugee inflows into the U.S.

Refugee influxes into the U.S., have tended to mirror major socio-political and armed upheavals in the world since the Second World War. From the post-world war period, including the cold war period and up until the mid-1990s, most refugees came from the former Soviet Union and the south eastern part of Asia. By the end of the cold war, most refugees came from the Balkans. By the 2000s, majority of asylum seekers were from Africa. Historically, majority of refugees have tended to settle in the large metropolitan areas with more than 70% of them settling in about thirty different locations. Also, refugees from the same countries tended to settle in the same locations. For instance, about half of refugees from Iran settled in the metropolitan area of Los Angeles within the last few decades of the 20th century.

Applicable Laws and Procedures

The 1951 Convention relating to Refugee Status and its accompanying protocol of 1967 stipulates all the legal requirements for processing asylum applications in the United States. The United States Congress codified and expanded on these commitments by enacting the Refugee Act in 1980. Basically, an asylum seeker has to prove that he is afraid of persecution in his home land and that this fear is real based on any of five recognized grounds and that either the government is behind this threat or the government is unable to control its occurrence.