Refugee vs immigrant

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A refugee is a person who is forced to leave his home and travel to another country in order to escape a natural disaster, war or persecution. Many countries grant refugees who can prove their refugee status certain rights. These rights guarantee that a refugee will not be returned to his home country if it would endanger him. The word refugee is derived from the seventeenth century French word réfugié, which means gone to seek refuge. The word was first applied to the Huguenots who migrated after the Edict of Nantes was revoked. The noun form is refugeeism.

An immigrant is a person who leaves his home and travels to another country in order to become a permanent member of the population. An immigrant is making a permanent change to his residency, with no plan to return to his country of origin or wish to return to his country of origin. The word immigrant comes from the Latin word immigrantem meaning to remove, to move in. Related words are immigrates, immigrated, immigrating, immigration. Remember, an immigrant is someone who comes to a new country by choice, a refugee comes to a new country because the conditions in his home country have become unlivable.


The Greater Des Moines Partnership has released a plan that aims to help integrate immigrants and foreign-born workers into the region’s communities and workforce. (The Des Moines Register)

Immigrants are large contributors to Maryland’s economy — employing more than 125,000 people at their businesses and paying $9 billion in taxes, according to a report from a group supporting immigration reform. (The Baltimore Sun)

But Aeham Ahmad is thinking of his pulverized, starving neighborhood in Syria, where a few years ago, before coming to Germany as a refugee, he embarked on a strange career by playing concerts in the rubble. (The New York Times)

Three flatmates of a gay Syrian refugee beheaded in a homophobic attack in Turkey last week fear they face a similar fate, after receiving death threats in the days since his murder. (The Guardian)