We use the word “refugee” when we talk about the people we help. In fact, though, “refugee” has a specific meaning in immigration discussions. The Guardian Group actually helps refugees, asylees, and asylum seekers, but we sometimes we just say “refugee” because listing each classification can be a mouthful.
However, each of these categories of immigrants are in the United States legally and have different challenges.
Here are the differences:
Someone who flees their homeland and gets formal “refugee” classification from the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees. After they’ve been officially dubbed a refugee, they wait for a US Homeland security visa. They then come to the US with at least two-weeks’ notice – often much more. The Guarian Group is able to make plans for arrival.
As soon as they set foot in the United States, a refugee is given by the government $900 in cash and 8-months of beneifts which include food stamps and $300/month income assistance. A refugee is able to work, get a Social Security Number, and is on path to citizenship.
An asylee is someone who arrived in US on a tourist, business, student, etc. visa. Once in the United States they claimed that they are unable to return home due to a fear of persecution. They’ve documented the validity of their fear of persecution. A US immigration judge has examined their case and has granted them asylum.
As soon as they are granted asylum they are able to work, get a Social Security Number, and are on a path to citizenship.
An asylum seeker is someone who arrived in US on a tourist, business, student, etc. visa. Once in the United States they claimed that they are unable to return home due to a fear of persecution. They are documenting or have already documented the validity of their fear of persecution. A US immigration judge has not yet examined their case.
An asylum seeker generally cannot work or get a Social Security Number. They can get health care only if they are a San Francisco resident.
“Sexual Minority” or “Queer”
The Guardian Group is committed to helping all sexual minority refugees (in the broad sense of that word!).
Listing categories of sexual minority individually can result in an alphabet soup of acronyms which vistors to the site might not understand. We could also unintentionally leave out a group through our ignorance.
So rather than using, “LGBTQQI” (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, and intersex) we refer to sexual minority or queer people.