Monday, September 21, 2015

Refugees are not migrants

Twenty million people have fled their homes because of wars in the past decade, but many in the mainstream media choose to call them “migrants.”
The American idea of a migrant was defined in John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of  Wrath,” someone driven from the land by drought or some other economic disaster.
There was no war.
A migrant is “a person who moves regularly in order to find work especially in harvesting crops,” according to Merriam-Webster.
But the BBC and others have conflated the words migrant and refugee.
The BBC even defends its decision with a paragraph in each story: “A note on terminology: The BBC uses the term migrant to refer to all people on the move who have yet to complete the legal process of claiming asylum. This group includes people fleeing war-torn countries such as Syria, who are likely to be granted refugee status, as well as people who are seeking jobs and better lives, who governments are likely to rule are economic migrants.”
It is as if the many millions who have fled from Syria and Libya alone should have used their laptops and wifi to declare themselves asylum seekers.
It is possible it might be necessary to use two words, as much as editors like to keep things short: migrants and refugees.
The crisis is made even more complicated because terrorist groups like ISIS have declared they will infiltrate groups of refugees with their killers to spread their theology.
Technology is available to limit the effectiveness of such groups, such as ankle bracelets and chips inserted in bodies to track asylum seekers.
Instead on one side there are those who say we cannot allow refugees to enter because they will include terrorists and those who like ostriches hide their heads in the sand and refuse to discuss the threat.
Eleanor Acer, director of the refugee advocacy protection program at Human Rights First, this is the “largest refugee crisis since World War II.”
Were Israelis called migrants when they fought their way into Palestine?

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