Persecution or fear of persecution because of religion, nationality, political beliefs, race or social status are motivations for both groups to cross borders into the United States. Members of the two groups often settle here in San Diego, but there are some important differences between them.

Some of the differences between refugees and asylum-seekers include sheer numbers (refugees outnumber immigrants seeking asylum) and where the two groups begin the immigrantion process (refugees begin it abroad; those seeking asylum do it at the border or inside the U.S.).

Some refugees come to escape armed conflicts at home. Before arriving in America, they are sometimes housed in camps overseas where they receive assistance with essentials (food, minimal housing, etc.) from international organizations. Once here, they can receive support that includes financial aid, medical care, education and other assistance.

Asylum-seekers are often fleeing more personal battles with hostile powers at home, including people who are politically active or gay or otherwise deemed objectionable.

Unlike refugees asylum-seekers are sometimes detained at a port of entry such as San Diego and then given an interview to try to determine if their fears of persecution are credible. Those whose fears aren’t considered credible can be deported. Those who pass that initial test will face a hearing before an immigrantion court judge, PBS recently reported.

At every step of the process, knowledge of process and paperwork is critical.

An experienced immigrantion law attorney can help you navigate a complex system. You can contact the Law Offices of Jan Joseph Bejar, A Professional Law Corporation, for more information.