Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science in International Business

Degree Level





Jensen, Molly

Committee Member/Reader

Rapert, Molly


The words written on the United States of America’s famous Statue of Liberty, written by poet Emma Lazarus over a century ago:

Give me your tired, your poor,

your huddled masses yearning to breathe free

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. . . .

America and Europe alike have forgotten the sacred words that gave hope to so many 100 years ago. Many use phrases like “floods of people” or “swarms” to describe those who leave their countries for a life in the Western world. Which of the refugees welcomed into the most powerful country in the world were considered “real” refugees? Were they refugees or just “migrants”? It did not matter, as there was no need for a distinction under the policies of unlimited immigration. A refugee was once described as “someone who has been compelled to abandon his home” (Zolberg et al. 1989). This could have included victims of natural disasters, war, and political or religious persecution.

Today, there is a narrower definition of what it means to be a refugee. As defined United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), a refugee is a “person who, owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country” (“Figures at a Glance”, 2017). This definition, the universally accepted definition of a refugee, is not satisfactory. It does not include victims of natural disaster, famine, or other events in which an individual cannot be held responsible for. For instance, on the UNHCR website there are 65.6 million displaced peoples who have been forced from their homes, while only 22.5 million are refugees known by the UNHCR, with only 189,300 resettled in 2016. What is difference between the 22.5 million and the other 43.1 million? The answer is simply a difference in labelling. 22.5 million are considered real, while the other 43.1 million are left behind.

Those who have obtained official refugee status receive privileges that those without it do not have access to, such as quick admission to other countries, legal protections, and even extra financial or tangible benefits from the public sector. The UN’s definition of refugees is narrow, and many are denied official refugee status because they do not fall under it. This definition needs to be changed, and this paper will discuss both refugees recognized under UNHCR’s definition and international law, the “legal refugees” compared to those who do not fit the definition, the “false” refugees. Under the UNHCR definition, 55% of the world’s refugees come from South Sudan, Afghanistan, and Syria (2017). These are the highest levels of displaced peoples on record, and much higher off the record.

This research is an honest look into the European Refugee Crisis, examining how illegitimate refugees are disproportionately advantaged compared to those we deem officially recognized refugees, and how policies, public sentiment, and the very definition of refugee must be changed to more positively affect refugees. The following questions will be discussed: How is Italy, and the entirety of the European Union, handling the greatest refugee crisis of our time? How can Italy prevail against these overwhelming odds? Why are only some refugees “legal” and much more considered “false”? Does the definition of a refugee need to be changed? How does the EU need to adapt to this crisis, and how can they assist Italy and other southern states further?

This research will focus on refugees’ journeys both to the country of Italy and attempts to go throughout Europe. There is a marked difference between these two processes, and the research will briefly look at the “clean” resettlement process through the UNHCR, and then look at the reality of the refugee crisis for countries geographically closer to the source, specifically Italy and the rest of Europe. Then economic benefits of refugees will be presented, as well as the crisis in Italy of the “migration business”. A large portion of this research project will be grounded in primary research, with secondary sources to supplement my first-hand experiences. Europe has left the Mediterranean states behind, abandoning them with heavy refugee flows and incredibly limited methods of assisting refugees. The southern states have the bulk of the burden, and the rest of the European Union must assist these countries or they will crumble.


refugee, nonprofit, international business, italy, europe, migration