Finding Refuge in the Heartland — Viewer Questions

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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) — During the course of a five-part special report on refugee resettlement, 1011 News received a number of questions for us to look into.

We attempted to be as comprehensible as possible, but below are a few of the inquiries we received during “Finding Refuge in the Heartland.”

What is the difference between a refugee and an immigrant?

A legal immigrant is someone who has a type of visa and they have various stages of access to permanent residency. An undocumented immigrant has none of the above. An immigrant could come to the country for a number of reasons, including a student visa, a work visa, or visitor visa.

A refugee is person who flees their country in fear of persecution and they come to the United States, sort of as an invited guest. They’ve already gone through their vetting, all of their background checks overseas, so when they get to the United States they are on a path to citizenship. They’re able to work right away, and they’re here to stay. They get a green card after one year and they can apply for citizenship after five years.

How many refugees receive government benefits, and what is the cost?

1011 News has requested information from the Department of Health and Human Services, and once the information becomes available, we will be able to thoroughly answer this question.

If you have additional questions regarding the ‘Finding Refuge in the Heartland’ series, please email

We will continue to add questions and answers to this page.