If one assumes that the only type of refugee worth helping is one from a war-torn country, it dramatically influences what you might do to help humanity. When we broaden the definition of refugee to include those marginalized or displaced from employment — socially or emotionally — a tremendous opportunity to alleviate the needs of desperate families and individuals becomes available, says Robert D. Hokanson, manager of the refugee initiative for LDS Charities.

A person who is robbed at gunpoint is perceived either as a victim or a survivor; the words used to communicate the event significantly affect the picture our minds create. According to Barry Malone, an Al Jazeera English editor who has written extensively on the migrant crisis, “The word migrant conjures a faceless, ignored, nuisance,” and strips people of a voice. The fuzzy definitions of the words refugee and migrant affect how we address the problems.

What are the repercussions of redefining the meaning of refugee? Some experts worry a redefinition could increase security risks, economic burdens and the threat of deceitful opportunists. Doug Saunders, an international affairs columnist, goes so far as to claim that it is “insidious” to believe that many refugees are actually fleeing famine and death.

The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund reports that in the first six months of 2016, 26,000 unaccompanied children (largely young teenage boys) and 29,700 others (mostly mothers and young children) sought refuge in the U.S. from gangs and poverty. They risked kidnapping, trafficking and rape for employment, food and safety.

The reality of thousands of children is highlighted in the example of Alexis, a migrant worker seeking to escape the poverty of Honduras:

At 16, Alexis and a cousin packed their meager belongings and hit the road, hoping to escape the bitter poverty. … They had hoped to make it to the United States. But for Alexis, the journey ended in Mexico when he fell off a freight train and lost his right leg — not an uncommon injury on the notorious route. Now, he is back home, a wood and corrugated iron shack built on a slope that turns into mud every time it rains. His mother and his teenage siblings work odd jobs when they can find them, harvesting chilies, taking care of other people’s children or helping out in food stalls.

Saunders predicts that refugees will ultimately drag down a country’s gross domestic product and create political radicalization and violent extremism. However, in an international study comparing the fiscal impact of immigration, economist Thomas Liebig with the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development stated, “Immigration is neither pain nor panacea to the public purse.” Moreover, a study conducted in France, Belgium and Scandinavia showed “migrants actually raise the gross domestic product between 0.5 percent and 1.3 percent.”

Americans once embraced the invitation given by Lady Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. …”

Over the years, welcoming refugees has dramatically changed, yet German Chancellor Angela Merkel, a shining example of a “lady liberty,” asked her people to help by setting aside fears of immigrants and showing compassion.

Cheering crowds once welcomed hundreds of thousands of migrants/refugees into Germany, but America’s narrow and undecided definition of a refugee is creating an uncharacteristic, apathetic attitude — a forgetfulness of the patchwork of individuals and families who came seeking refuge and opportunity and, in turn, became the foundation of a great nation. America prospers when it listens to its moral compass instead of selfishly turning within.

Things may not be easy for Chancellor Merkel, refugees or many Americans who feel that the best days have passed. Working together to do something positive will be better than turning a blind eye.