Refugees and Refugee Crises: some Historical Reflections

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In the United States, many people believe refugees and asylum seekers came for the same reason as immigrants, but they don’t. A refugee is a person who is forced to leave their home country due to the violence and persecution experienced and was recognized by the United Nations, while an asylum seeker has to go through the process so that they can be able to qualify as a refugee. (Tonin) An immigrant is a person who permanently came to the United States for economic reasons, such as finding jobs and supporting their child to have the education. Refugees pursue a safe place to live until it is safe for them to return back to their country. In recent years, refugees have become an important political and humanitarian issue.

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The early history of refugees began after World War II when the Europeans were forced to leave their country because of the disaster after the war. In 1948, the United States passed the Displaced Person Act to help millions of the Europeans who lost their homes; the act expired in 1952. The Refugee Act of 1980 was created in response to the large influx of refugees from the Southeast Asia crisis. The goal of the act was to organize the entry and resettlement of refugees. (Gale) In 1990, the Soviet Union collapsed which cause more refugees to flee to the U.S. Refugees today are coming from Syria due to the Syrian Civil War after the terrorist attack from September 11, 2001. (Bump)

During the 2016 presidential campaign, President Trump made a promise to his supporters to decrease the number of refugees that entered the United States. In accordance to his promises made during the election, the Trump administration has shut down twenty refugee resettlement offices and decreased the operations at forty other offices.(Marshall) In January of 2017, President Trump signed the executive order to suspend the U.S. resettlement of Syrian refugees and delayed people who were traveling from seven major banned Muslim countries. Later in March of 2017, President Trump signed the new executive order that would replace the old one, allowing Syrian refugees to enter the United States and removing Iraq from the seven major Muslim countries that were banned. (Gale) The administration believes that their policies would prevent them from letting terrorists into the United States, policies based on concerns from the September 11, 2001 attack. But, according to Libertarian Cato Institute in 2016, the odds of the Americans being attacked by refugees is only 1 in 3.64 billion, which means there were few terrorist attacks happening in the United States. (Bump)

According to the population statistics of 2016 from the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees, about sixteen and a half million refugees were eligible to enter to the United States. But today in the United States, the government will accept no more than 30,000 refugees per year. (Bump) Having numerous refugees affect U.S. citizens, because most of the citizens believe that having refugees could cause terrorist attack due to Trump’s concern from the September 11 attack or the refugees are taking their jobs away from them. Other citizens believed that the refugee need help due to the problems happening in their home country. Citizens who believed in having less amount of refugee feel safe, while others citizens would like to learn more about the problems that the refugees are going through.

Tonin, James. “Asylum.” Immigration and Migration: In Context, edited by Thomas Riggs and Kathleen J. Edgar, vol. 1, Gale, 2018, pp. 55-60. In Context Series. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, Accessed 2 Oct. 2018.

“Refugees in the United States.” Opposing Viewpoints Online Collection, Gale, 2017. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, Accessed 2 Oct. 2018.

Marshall, P. (2018, June 26). Refugee crisis. CQ researcher. Retrieved from

Smith, Patricia. “Trump’s travel ban.” New York Times Upfront, 13 Mar. 2017, p. 6+. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, Accessed 3 Oct. 2018.

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Refugees and Refugee Crises: Some Historical Reflections. (2019, Jul 01). Retrieved February 5, 2023 , from

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