Jesuit Law Schools Release Report on Asylum Seekers

July 16, 2015 —

Last January, Georgetown Law and a dozen other Jesuit law schools partnered with the Jesuit Refugee Service to study Central American child migrants in the United States and to advocate for their protection. The first fruits of their collaboration are found in a report addressing the plight of child migrants and their families. The report was released last month and discussed July 16 at Georgetown Law.  

“A Fair Chance For Due Process” describes the legal, procedural and logistical challenges facing asylum seekers and vulnerable migrants and recommends such policy changes as ending expedited processing for children and families and recognizing gang-based asylum claims. 

“Gang-based persecution is by and large not recognized as protective grounds, so we need to set our client apart,” said Emily Robinson, co-director and clinical attorney at the Loyola Immigrant Justice Clinic at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. She described one of her clients, a teenager from El Salvador, a straight “A” student who refused a gang’s request to transport drugs and fled the country when gang members tried to kill him. “We’re not opening the floodgates by offering these individuals protection,” Robinson said, though she did acknowledge the difficulty of helping individuals who “don’t always come to this country with their bags packed full of police reports and other evidence” to help lawyers win their asylum claims.

Also speaking were Jeanne Atkinson of the Clinical Legal Immigration Network, Alyson Sincavage of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and Hannah Sullivan of the Catholic Immigration Law Project at Saint Louis University School of Law. Armando Borja, national director of the Jesuit Refugee Service/USA, introduced the panel, which was moderated by Daria Fisher Page, director of the Community Justice Project at Georgetown Law.

“This partnership is really unique and it is a critical step in addressing the complex problem of how the U.S. treats these vulnerable migrants,” Fisher Page said. “It is so exciting that this partnership is harnessing the dedication, the passion and the expertise of Jesuit law schools, their faculty, students and partners.”

Georgetown Law Dean William M. Treanor, former dean of another Jesuit law school, Fordham, said it was a privilege to be involved in an issue “of such fundamental importance for all of us with our great social justice mission and concern for making a difference and opening doors.” 

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