Book

Let Me Be a Refugee

Rebecca Hamlin

Published in print September 2014 | ISBN: 9780199373307
Published online September 2014 | e-ISBN: 9780199396733 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199373307.001.0001
Let Me Be a Refugee

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Why do decision-makers in similar liberal democracies interpret the same legal definition in very different ways? International law provides states with a common definition of a refugee as well as guidelines outlining how asylum claims should be decided. Yet, the processes by which countries determine who should be granted refugee status look strikingly different, even across nations with many political, cultural, geographical, and institutional commonalities. This book compares the refugee status determination (RSD) regimes of three popular asylum seeker destinations – the United States, Canada, and Australia. Despite similarly high levels of political resistance to accepting asylum seekers across these three states, once asylum seekers cross their borders, they access three very different systems. These differences are significant both in terms of asylum seekers’ experience of the process and in terms of their likelihood of being found to be a refugee. The book draws from a multi-method analysis of all three countries, including a year of fieldwork with in-depth interviews of policy-makers and asylum-seeker advocates, observations of refugee status determination hearings, and a large-scale case analysis. It concludes that cross-national differences have less to do with political debates over admission and border control policy than with the level of insulation the administrative decision-making agency enjoys from either political interference or judicial review. Administrative justice is conceptualized and organized differently in every state, and so states vary in how they draw the line between refugee and non-refugee.

Keywords: refugee; asylum; administrative; justice; comparison; adjudication; migration; border hearing

Book.  248 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Comparative Politics ; International Relations

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Table of Contents

Let Me Be a Refugee in Let Me Be a Refugee

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Courting Asylum in Let Me Be a Refugee

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The “Cadillac” Bureaucracy in Let Me Be a Refugee

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Asylum for Women in Let Me Be a Refugee

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