Dree Collopy on Central American Refugees and Asylum Law

Writing in today’s Leadership Blog from the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Dree Collopy explains the fundamentals of asylum law the critics, journalists, and politicians fail to understand:

Any refusal to recognize gender-motivated violence such as rape and domestic violence as persecution worthy of protection under the Immigration and Nationality Act and the U.N. Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees reflects a complete lack of understanding of women’s relationship to the state and their own governments’ failure to provide adequate protection.  As an asylum lawyer who has represented victims of domestic violence, many of whom are now being detained with their children upon entry to the United States, this ignorance is offensive to me, and I hope that I can help raise awareness with this post.

So, what is asylum law about?  Asylum law is about protecting people who are targeted with systematic violence because they embody a specific trait that they cannot and should not be required to change, such as being part of a specific social group.  When their own governments fail or refuse to protect them, our laws do not permit our government to send them back to face ongoing persecution.  Instead, asylum is granted following a lengthy and strenuous application process during which credible testimony and volumes of evidence are required to meet the high burden of proof.

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