Public Service Announcement – rules governing “asylum” and “refugee”

I am seeing statements on social media (Twitter and Facebook) saying that immigrants can apply for asylum at US embassies and consulates in another country. Example is this tweet:

This is NOT correct!


Some people are confusing refugee status and asylum status. To be accurate, you must apply for asylum in the USA – ideally, at a border crossing. You can, however, apply for refugee status at a consulate or embassy in Mexico (or another country).

Asylum status is a form of protection available to people who:

Meet the definition of refugee
Are already in the United States
Are seeking admission at a port of entry

Refugees & Asylum (USCIS)


Refugee status is a form of protection that may be granted to people who meet the definition of refugee and who are of special humanitarian concern to the United States. Refugees are generally people outside of their country who are unable or unwilling to return home because they fear serious harm. For a legal definition of refugee, see section 101(a)(42) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

You may seek a referral for refugee status only from outside of the United States. For more information about refugees, see the  “Refugees” section.

I was confused about this until I looked up the laws governing the granting of asylum. Please correct people who are also confused!

There are thousands of people at the borders applying for asylum, and some on the left are telling others that the Border Patrol (or some other authority at the border) is telling people that they must go away and come back later, or that they can’t come in. Here is an article about the border at Tijuana, and how they issue numbers (like the deli) to those applying for asylum. They say the wait is 3 weeks! People are waiting, coming back each day to find out if their number will be called that day.

Santa Cruz Sentinel

Wait times of a few hours or longer are not uncommon at the border. But the backlogs that have developed over the past several weeks at crossings in California, Arizona and Texas — and people sleeping out in the open for days at a time — are rare.

Telma Ramirez made the trip from El Salvador to seek asylum in the U.S. She arrived at the border in Tijuana with her 5-year-old son and year-old daughter, only to find a crush of others ahead of her.

The 27-year-old mother kept checking in at the border crossing to see if civilian volunteers were close to calling their numbers, in a scene that resembled the host station at a crowded restaurant.

Finally, on the 20th day, Ramirez made it to the front of the line.

In this Monday, June 4, 2018 photo, people seeking political asylum in the United States line up to be interviewed in Tijuana, Mexico, just across the U.S. border south of San Diego. The Trump administration’s fighting words for asylum seekers don’t appear to be having much impact at U.S. border crossings with Mexico. Lines keep growing, so much that U.S. authorities can’t take them all at once. Elliot Spagat — associated press


This entry was posted in Government, News, Politics, Refugees & Aliens. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Public Service Announcement – rules governing “asylum” and “refugee”

  1. shortcaker says:

    Thank you Stella for pointing out the differences in these statuses.


  2. auscitizenmom says:

    I am going to read this several more times to make sure I get it planted in my brain. Thx.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. stella says:

    There are about 50 border crossings between the USA and Mexico.


  4. Lucille says:

    See the difference between our southern and northern borders….

    USA-Mexico Border Crossings.
    Following the Boundary Treaty of 1970 between Mexico and the United States that settled all the pending boundary disputes and uncertainties related to the Rio Grande (Río Bravo del Norte) border, the national continental border extends 1,954 miles (3,145 km), excluding the maritime boundaries of 18 miles (29 km)….
    Mexico–United States border – Wikipedia–United_States_border

    USA-Canada Border Crossings.
    The Canada-United States border is the longest international border in the World at 5,525 miles. There are more than 100 land border crossings between Canada and the USA, although not all of these are open 24 hours a day 7 days a week year round.
    Canada USA Border Crossings – Entering Canada with a DUI


  5. John Denney says:

    Why would an El Salvadoran seek asylum in the U.S. and not Guatemala, Mexico, Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama?

    Liked by 2 people

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