NORTHAMPTON, Mass (WWLP) – You’ve been hearing a lot about refugees and immigrants. But what’s the difference between the two groups? 22News is working for you to explain what sets them apart.
President Trump signed an executive order that a federal judge has blocked Friday night. The order banned refugees from entering the country for 120 days and keeps immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries out for 3 months.
It’s a move the president says will protect the country from terrorism. But what’s the difference between an immigrant and a refugee?
An immigrant is someone who chooses to resettle in another country, while a refugee is someone who was forced to flee their country for their own safety.
22News went to Northampton to speak with American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Bill Newman, about who determines if a person is a refugee.
“A person would be interviewed by the United Nations. Yes we know about the war in Syria. Yes it makes sense. That is, you are in fact a political refugee, your life is in danger. This person is a refugee,” said Newman.
A Spanish teacher born in Mexico, told 22News, he migrated to the U.S. for a better life. “It made more sense for me to teach Spanish in the U.S., instead of staying in Mexico where I could just seasonally teach American tourists, which was like a summer job for me,” said Abelardo Almazan-Vazquez of Putney, Vermont.
There are 150,000 undocumented immigrants in Massachusetts, according to Springfield Immigration lawyer Billy Peard. He also said, 15,000 of them live here in western Massachusetts. And 6000 undocumented immigrants call Springfield home.