Archive for December, 2013


The arbitrary nature of asylum in the U.S.

Today’s NY Times ran an interesting story about a local official in South-Central Mexico who is writing letters attempting to document and legitimize migrants’ claims of persecution and violence so that they may seek asylum in the United States. The article alludes to the arbitrary nature of the asylum determination process in the U.S., in which the same claims or cases within families may be decided differently by immigration officials, resulting in return/deportation/separation/and further uncertainty for migrants and their family members. This discussion further highlights how the legal/political distinctions between “migrants” and “refugees” (the former category of people viewed as moving of their own accord in search of economic opportunity and the latter category reserved for those viewed as forcibly displaced due to political persecution and violence) fail to encapsulate the complexities of contemporary human displacement across national borders. (This, by the way, is an argument that several colleagues and I are making in a proposed special issue of the journal International Migration…)