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Who Are Refugees And Immigrants?

Throughout 2019, Side Effects will examine the health care challenges that refugees and immigrants face in the United States. Language barriers, cultural misunderstandings and our complex bureaucracy can interfere with effective care.

Who is a refugee?

A refugee is someone forced to flee their country because of persecution, war or violence. The persecution can be due to race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.

About 22,500 refugees were admitted to the U.S. in the federal fiscal year that ended in September, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Most of those refugees came from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burma, Ukraine, Bhutan and Eritrea.

Who is an asylum seeker?

An asylum seeker is someone who meets the definition of a refugee and is already present in the U.S. or is seeking admission at a port of entry. 

About 26,500 individuals were granted asylum during 2017, according to DHS. Most of those asylum seekerswere from China, El Salvador and Guatemala.

Who is an undocumented immigrant?

An undocumented immigrant is someone who enters the U.S. without permission from officials.

The federal government estimates 12 million undocumented immigrants were living in the U.S. in January 2015. Most either entered the U.S. without passing through a border checkpoint or were admitted temporarily and remained past their required departure date. About 55 percent were born in Mexico.