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Protecting the Right to Seek Asylum

February 29, 2024

At The Hill, Transnational Legal Clinic Director Sarah Paoletti urges representatives to “take a long, hard look at the ways our immigration and deportation systems are failing people who are in harm’s way.”

At The Hill, Sarah Paoletti, Practice Professor of Law and Founder and Director of the Transnational Legal Clinic at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, argues that the United States must reform the immigration system to protect the right to seek asylum and honor the country’s obligations under international law.

Sarah Paoletti, Transnational Legal Clinic Director Sarah Paoletti, Transnational Legal Clinic Director“Our representatives must take a long, hard look at the ways our immigration and deportation systems are failing people who are in harm’s way,” write Paoletti and co-author R. Denisse Cordova Montes, Lecturer in Law and Acting Associate Director of the Human Rights Clinic at the University of Miami School of Law. “We need to truly honor our obligations under international law, by reforming our immigration system in a way that protects the right to seek asylum, provides safeguards the due process rights of those subjected to deportation, and considers the totality of the circumstances that confront an individual and their family members if they are not accepted into or are deported from the U.S.” 

Paoletti’s research focuses on the intersection of human rights, migration, labor law, and access to justice. The Transnational Legal Clinic is the Law School’s international human rights and immigration clinic in which students grapple with international and comparative legal norms, working across borders, legal systems, cultures, and languages, representing individuals in immigration proceedings, and advocating on behalf of and in collaboration with organizations and individuals before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the UN, and other fora.

From The Hill:

Last month, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) ruled that a petition brought against the United States on behalf of six Haitian people who were deported to Haiti in the middle of the cholera epidemic may move forward. The ruling comes 10 years after the initial petition, which asserted that the U.S. deported the Haitian nationals without consideration for the human rights and humanitarian crisis that gripped the country, and which was in direct violation to the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man.

The decision came on the heels of the 14-year anniversary of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti, taking the lives of more than 250,000 people, leaving thousands more wounded, displacing 1.5 million and igniting the deadly cholera epidemic.

Despite the worst conditions and crisis in the country’s history, people are still being deported to Haiti. The signal that this case can move forward will mean consideration that the U.S. must balance humanitarian factors against the government’s interest in deportation whenever it seeks to send someone back to Haiti.

Read Paoletti’s full piece at The Hill.