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Refugee status and immigration

Foreigners who enter South Carolina to live permanently are classified as immigrants or refugees. An immigrant is someone who has decided to move to the United States for economic reasons or for other personal reasons. A refugee, on the other hand, is a foreigner who has entered the U.S. because they are fleeing persecution in their home country.

Attaining refugee status after entering the U.S. is not easy, but an affected individual may be able to apply for asylum. In order to be classified as a refugee, a person must be able to present proof that they cannot return to their home country because they have a genuine fear that they will be seriously harmed. Applicants for asylum usually show evidence that they are being persecuted for their political opinions, race, religion, nationality or membership in a particular social group.

Although many of the Central Americans who cross the border between Mexico and the United States are fleeing gang violence, they do not necessarily qualify for refugee status. To seek asylum, a person must be able to show that violence in an area is targeted at people from their particular ethnic or religious group. However, thanks to the William Wilbeforce Trafficking Victims Protection Action Act, some of the children who are crossing the border alone may qualify for asylum.

Those who think that they might qualify for refugee status in the U.S. might want to speak with an immigration attorney who will endeavor to determine whether or not an individual has a good case for asylum. If asylum is not an option, there may be other available options that the attorney will explore.

Source: CNN, "What's the difference between immigrant and refugee?", Michael Martinez and Miguel Marquez, July 16, 2014

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