This writing seminar will examine international and domestic refugee law and policy. Drawing on international and comparative jurisprudence, as well as United States law, the course situates refugee law in its global context and equips students to undertake both sophisticated legal analysis and advocacy in this field.
The seminar will trace the development of the U.N. Refugee Convention and U.S. asylum law, including the Refugee Act of 1980. Students will discuss the institutional frameworks for making refugee claims and will consider the roles of key actors, such as the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Students in the seminar will discuss the refugee definition and the grounds of eligibility for protection (race, religion, nationality, political opinion and social group) that are applicable worldwide, with a special emphasis on cutting- edge claims involving gang violence and gender-based harm. Students will also assess legal and institutional efforts to respond to the situation of other forced migrants who do not fit within the refugee definition. In addition, the seminar will examine the procedures for seeking refugee status and the adequacy of the protections offered to forced migrants. Finally, students will consider policies and practices regarding detention of applicants for protection and integration of refugees into the socio-economic fabric of their host countries.
A significant portion of students' grades for the course will be based upon completion of a final seminar paper (minimum 25 double-spaced pages, inclusive of footnotes). Each student will also write several shorter reflection papers (2-3 pages) throughout the semester, which will be considered in assigning the final grade. In addition, class participation will be an important component for grading purposes.