Friday, June 19, 2015

Papers on the US Refugee Protection System on the 35th Anniversary of the Refugee Act of 1980

The Center for Migration Studies of New York has released, The US Refugee Protection System on the 35th Anniversary of the Refugee Act of 1980: A Comprehensive Assessment of the System’s Strengths, Limitations, and Need for Reform, a special edition of CMS’s Journal on Migration and Human Security (JMHS).
Authored by leading experts, the collection of 11 papers offers an exhaustive assessment and critique of the US refugee protection system, covering refugees, asylum seekers and refugee-like populations in need of protection. The series attempts to bring concentrated academic and policy attention to this pillar of US immigration and humanitarian programs and the broader international refugee protection system. The papers cover access to protection, refugee resettlement, political asylum, temporary protection, the stateless, migrants in crisis situations, unaccompanied minors, and other populations at risk. In an introductory essay, CMS Executive Director Donald Kerwin situates the papers within a broader discussion of international law, impediments to protection, US protection programs, vulnerable populations, and due process concerns. The essay sets forth extensive policy recommendations to strengthen the system which are drawn from the papers, legislative proposals, and other sources.  

Among others issues, the policy recommendations address:

  • The failure by US officials to screen persons during interdiction, interception and airport pre-screening programs to determine if they may be at risk of persecution, torture or severe harm.
  • Attempts by US border officials to dissuade persons fleeing for their lives from seeking protection in the United States.
  • The expansion of the expedited removal process and other summary removal processes.
  • The referral of asylum seekers for criminal prosecution for illegal entry prior to adjudication of their claims.
  • The detention of asylum seekers after they have been found to have a “credible fear” of persecution.
  • Barriers to asylum for unaccompanied child migrants, persons apprehended at or near the US-Mexico border, and persons who fail to apply for asylum within one-year.
  • Multi-year delays in considering employment authorization requests by bona fide asylum seekers.
  • Poor coordination and insufficient information sharing by the constituent parts of the US refugee admissions and resettlement program.
  • The need to better align federal funding with refugee settlement patterns, to promote family reunification, and to create more tailored and longer-term approaches to refugee integration and well-being.
  • Substantial underfunding of the US asylum corps and immigration court system, leading to long delays in the consideration of asylum claims.
  • The need for a permanent solution for long- term recipients of temporary protection in the United States.
  • The lack of legal vehicles to admit non-refugees at risk of torture or severe harm in their home countries.
  • The particular challenges faced by non-citizens during natural and man-made disasters.

A PDF download of the full edition is available. To order a print edition, complete the order form.


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