Let Me Be a Refugee: Administrative Justice and the Politics of Asylum in the United States, Canada…

Paperback | September 30, 2014

byRebecca Hamlin

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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 countriesdetermine 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 UnitedStates, 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' experienceof the process and in terms of their likelihood of being found to be a refugee. The book moves beyond the claim by some scholars that asylum seeker destinations are uniformly becoming more exclusionary, and the contrary assertions of other scholars that the same destinations are converging on a new inclusive internationalism leading to the decline of state sovereignty. Instead,Hamlin finds these states to be running on three distinct trajectories, none of which are totally restrictive or expansive. Based on 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 ofrefugee status determination hearings, and a large-scale case analysis, Hamlin finds 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 eitherpolitical 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.

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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 countriesdetermine who should be granted refugee sta...

Rebecca Hamlin is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Grinnell College, USA.
Format:PaperbackDimensions:256 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.68 inPublished:September 30, 2014Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199373310

ISBN - 13:9780199373314

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgementsList of AbbreviationsPart One1. Let Me Be a Refugee2. Building a Cross-National Comparison of RSD Regimes3. 'Illegal Refugees' and the Rise of Restrictive Asylum PoliticsPart Two4. Courting Asylum: The Judicialization of Refugee Status Determination in the United States5. The 'Cadillac' Bureaucracy: Refugee Status Determination in Canada6. The Battle of the 'Bouncing Ball': Refugee Status Determination in AustraliaPart Three7. Asylum for Women: Reading Gender into the Refugee Definition8. Escaping the People's Republic: Chinese Asylum Claims in Three RSD Regimes9. Complementary Protection in a Complicated WorldPart Four10. Asylum Seeker Blues and the Globalization of LawAppendix: List of InterviewsBibliography