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Immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers and undocumented immigrants

America welcomes more than a million new residents a year -- and that doesn't include those who cross the border illegally or who overstay the visas.

Sometimes, though, it can be difficult to sort out how or why particular immigrants came to America. Here's a glossary that spells out some of the details.

Legal immigrants: More than 1 million people legally resettle in the United States every year, and nearly two-thirds do so because family members -- who are already U.S. citizens -- sponsor them, according to the Migration Policy Institute. Far smaller numbers of newcomers come on work visas, including those who come for temporary, low-skill work as well as professionals who move here permanently. Almost three-quarters of the 41.3 million foreign-born residents America in 2013 were legal immigrants

Refugees:  These people are a subset of legal immigrants, welcomed to the United States for humanitarian reasons after fleeing their troubled homelands. The refugees who settle in America do so after a rigorous vetting process that can last up to two years. In other words, they are nothing like the refugees who flooded into Europe, unwelcomed and unvetted, in recent years. Refugees generally make up less than 15 percent of the legal immigrant population.

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Undocumented immigrants: These people either crossed into America illegally or overstayed their visas. Many are economic migrants, coming here for work. Despite the political controversy surrounding them, the number of undocumented immigrants in America has fallen in recent years, from a peak of more than 12 million a decade ago to about 11 million today, the Pew Research Center said.

Asylum-seekers: These people are undocumented immigrants seeking legal status, arguing that they fled persecution or violence in their native land and therefore cannot go back. About 26,000 people were granted asylum in the United States in 2015. Many also seek asylum in Canada, which traditionally has been more welcoming to asylum seekers.

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