Expatriates, Immigrants, Refugees
By Jennifer Hammer
SNA (Tokyo) — On January 27, 2017, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order which seriously affected refugees waiting to enter the United States. These people were citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries: Libya, Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. For Trump’s supporters, this order appeared to confirm that the 45th President had made good on his promise to act against illegal immigrants. However, the people affected were not illegal immigrants at all; rather, they were expatriates, legal immigrants, and refugees. When they landed at numerous airports across the United States, they were detained and denied entry to their homes based merely upon their country of origin.
The Trump supporters appeared to be confused by basic definitions: “expatriates” are people who live outside of their home country; “immigrants” are those who leave to settle down and live in a foreign country; and “refugees” are people who have no choice in the matter, since they are fleeing persecution and danger in their home country. A person cannot be all three at the same time.
Japan is an example of a country with many expatriates. For example, the Ministry of Education wants Japanese students to learn English in elementary and secondary schools. This has created an influx of English teaching expatriates. All of the Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs) working in Japan are expatriates. They live outside of the country that they were born in, or grew up in, and they work in Japan. If they decide to leave Japan, they either return home (negating their status of being expatriates), or continue being an expat by moving to a third country. In some cases, expatriates become immigrants, choosing and having the ability to stay in Japan permanently.
The United States of America is a country with many immigrants as well as expatriates and refugees. In his recent executive order, President Trump, whether it be deliberately or accidentally, played upon the confusion that many people have in their minds about the newer arrivals among them, lumping them all into a single category of alleged potential “threat” to the nation.
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Jennifer Hammer is a contributing writer to the Shingetsu News Agency.
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