This course examines international and domestic refugee law and policy, with particular focus on refugee-related claims that arise in our legal system. After examining the nature of forced migration, the course will trace the history and development of the United Nations 1951 Refugee Convention, the 1967 Protocol, and the U.S. Refugee Act of 1980. Students will become familiar with the key actors in the asylum and refugee law arena, including the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, international non-governmental organizations, the U.S. Congress, the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, and the federal courts.
The course objectives are: (1) to equip students with an understanding of the international refugee system and of asylum law and procedures in the United States, and (2) to provide students with an academic foundation for future clinical study, employment, pro bono work, and internship opportunities within the U.S. government and the NGO community.
In addition to focusing on the refugee definition as interpreted by U.S. courts, we will examine the processes for adjudicating asylum claims, the rights of asylum seekers, detention, and forms of humanitarian immigration relief related to, but different from, asylum. We will also seek to understand the limits of asylum law and explore the toughest issues facing asylum adjudicators and policy makers today.