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Sanctuary Movement: A Difference of Opinion

Philip E. Lampe


The history of man is a record of human migration. Since human beings first appeared on earth they have been moving from place to place. As hunting-gathering societies became agrarian, the nomadic life required by the former abated somewhat, and boundaries between societies increased in importance. Although migration slowed, it never completely stopped. There have always been undesirable situations, such as wars, famine and persecution, which have served as a push to cause individuals and groups to leave their homeland. In addition, there have always been promises of something better elsewhere, such as peace, prosperity and freedom, which have served as a pull to lure them to foreign lands. This has not changed.

Persons crossing international borders may be classified into four general categories: refugees, migrants, asylum seekers and safe-haven seekers. Refugees are aliens who are generally recognized as having fled their homeland because of persecution or civil strife. Migrants are aliens who are seeking to improve their lives economically or socially. As such, they are often unskilled laborers with little formal education. Their presence in a given country may be legal or undocumented. Asylum seekers are aliens whose refugee status has not been determined. Safe-haven seekers are a marginal category of aliens who are seeking a temporary safe-haven from civil strife or natural disasters. It is believed that the total number of individuals in these four categories exceeds thirty million worldwide (Ford Foundation 1983:5-6).

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Print ISSN: 0886-5655
Online ISSN: 2159-1229