Course - Law
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Immigration Law


This seminar focuses primarily on U.S. refugee law, while at the same time exploring its international origins and comparing it with international norms of refugee protection.  The course considers the concepts of a well-founded fear of persecution and a threat to life or freedom, the requirement that the persecution feared be "on account of" one of five grounds, the process for seeking protection from removal as a refugee, the bars to eligibility, and the rights of asylum seekers.  Each of the five bases for obtaining protection as a refugee will be examined, and we will explore theories under which controversial claims (e.g., those by applicants fleeing domestic violence) may or may not fall within one or more of the grounds for protection.  We will also examine bars to refugee protection, and critiques that some of the bars imposed by the U.S. violate international law. The course also will examine the scope and limitations of the protections against repatriation set forth in the United Nations Convention Against Torture and implementing domestic legislation. Finally, other responses to refugee crises, such as conferral of temporary protection, will be explored.  


Forced Migration Law and Policy by David Martin et al.,

Course Format

Lecture, discussion, debates, role plays, and speakers. To gain a better understanding of how refugee law plays out in the lives of individual asylum seekers, we will also view and discuss films (including a documentary showing interviews of asylum seekers by INS officers) and excerpts from books by or about refugees.

Written Assignments  
Type of Exam

Midterm, quizzes, and final take-home essay (10-12 pages)

Basis for grading

Students are evaluated based on preparation for class (as evidenced by in-class participation and/or comments posted to "Forums"), 3-4 quizzes, and a take-home essay exam.  

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