Sunday, April 18, 2021
United States law promises refugees they will not be deported until they receive fair, impartial review and determination of their asylum eligibility. In addition to addressing the difficult substantive issues under the Refugee Act of 1980, refugees also carry with them the medical consequences of persecution or fear of persecution, traveling from home for exile, and now, since the implementation of the Migrant Protection Protocols and other United States policies, long periods of waiting for adjudication under difficult circumstances. Some refugees’ illness experiences, moreover, preclude them from testifying and accurately representing their own interests during asylum adjudication proceedings. This article explains how health inequity compromises the capacity of refugees to successfully demonstrate their asylum eligibility, recounts federal policy changes that exacerbate their health and legal vulnerabilities, and suggests how the United States fails to meet international obligations to refugee-patients.