Asylum in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries is a complex concept with built-in contradictions, especially the impossibility of bringing all those who are persecuted elsewhere to the West. The fundamental idea of Western nations offering safe haven is complicated by national histories and ideologies, and by current attitudes toward immigration. It is not always possible to separate the legitimate asylum seeker from the economic immigrant, so asylum seekers are vulnerable to policies driven by the economic need to open or close borders, as well as by compassion for their plight. Regardless of the rationales for separating the legitimate from the bogus applicant, the most fundamental contradiction in asylum policy is the classification of people fleeing persecution without proper documentation as criminals. Many policies in the US and the UK cause further harm to asylum seekers, from incarceration to inquisition, to deportation.