The Truth About Refugees and Asylum Seekers: Debunking the "Illegal" Migrant Myth

Charlotte Martin

Updated Monday, March 4, 2024 at 10:45 AM CDT

The Truth About Refugees and Asylum Seekers: Debunking the "Illegal" Migrant Myth

Understanding the Legal Rights and Protections for Refugees and Asylum Seekers

Refugees and asylum seekers are not considered "illegal" migrants. They are recognized under human rights and political agreements, such as the Geneva Convention. These individuals should be processed as refugees/asylum seekers, with their claims and applications considered. If they meet the criteria for being in danger if returned to their original country, they have a legal right to not be returned and allowed to remain in the country they applied in.

Unfortunately, some countries have used the "illegal" argument to neglect processing applications, creating a backlog of asylum seekers. This backlog can then be used to portray the situation as an invasion. The United Kingdom, for instance, has been criticized for its handling of asylum seekers and creating such backlogs.

It is important to note that there is an international treaty on refugees that protects individuals seeking asylum. If someone crosses the border and claims asylum, they cannot be deported until their case has been considered. Entering illegally does not disqualify someone from seeking asylum. The convention explicitly forbids deporting someone to a place where they can be persecuted (refoulement).

The refugee convention was established after World War II, partly in response to the refusal to let in Jewish refugees. However, some right-wing politicians, like Suella Braverman in Britain, have talked about changing it. It is crucial to understand that the convention serves to protect those who have a "well-founded fear of persecution." This would apply to anyone at risk of returning to North Korea, for example.

In the case of Cuba, individuals who made it to American land were allowed to stay and could obtain residency after one year. However, those intercepted in water were returned to Cuba. This policy ended in 2017, and now all Cubans are considered illegal immigrants and are sent back.

South Korea, on the other hand, allows any North Korean citizenship as they are Korean. However, if they are found in another country, where they will be deported depends on the political alignment of that country. China would deport them to the North, while Mongolia would deport them to the South. Other countries may take in North Koreans as refugees and treat them as such. They may also receive priority due to the political nature involved.

It is important to recognize that individuals can claim asylum, and countries will then decide what to do with them. In some cases, geopolitical opponents may have an interest in encouraging defection and may support them, as the US did with many Soviet defectors. The complexities of refugee and asylum seeker situations require careful consideration and adherence to international laws and agreements.

Understanding the legal rights and protections for refugees and asylum seekers is crucial in debunking the myth of "illegal" migrants. These individuals should be processed and their claims evaluated based on the international treaties and agreements in place. By upholding these principles, we can ensure a fair and just treatment of those seeking refuge from persecution and violence.

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