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Center for Immigrants’ Rights to host fall colloquium marking the 30th anniversary of the Refugee Act

Center for Immigrants’ Rights to host fall colloquium marking the 30th anniversary of the Refugee Act

Penn State Law’s Center for Immigrants' Rights will host a fall colloquium marking the 30th anniversary of the Refugee Act on November 12. Premier refugee advocates and scholars will examine the history and development of domestic refugee law; question whether refugee law and policy is consistent with the principles echoed in the Refugee Act; and debate administrative and legislative solutions moving forward.

When Congress passed the Refugee Act of 1980, the groundbreaking piece of legislation created a framework for asylum and refugee law in the United States. The Refugee Act also adopted key definitions and principles from international human rights law.

"Over the past 30 years, domestic refugee law has evolved in ways that are inconsistent with the intentions of Congress or the international human rights laws on which the Refugee Act was founded. Under the current framework, it is not uncommon for asylum seekers to be held in prisons for prolonged periods; or denied refugee protection because they did not meet a technical rule that requires them to apply within a year of arrival. Asylum seekers face these hurdles, even if they are refugees with well-founded fears of persecution," said Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia, clinical professor and director of Penn State Law’s Center for Immigrants’ Rights. 

Professor Wadhia will moderate the event. Confirmed speakers include:

  • Elizabeth Dallam, senior protection officer, UNHCR
  • Regina Germain, professor and author of The Asylum Primer, published by the American Immigration Lawyers Association
  • Tara Magner, senior counsel to the chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Office of Senator Patrick Leahy
  • Jeanne Smoot, public policy director, Tahirih Justice Center
  • Anne Sovcik, advocacy counsel, Human Rights First

The event will begin at 10:30 a.m. in the Lewis Katz Building, University Park, PA, and will be simulcast to room 106, Lewis Katz Hall, in Carlisle, PA. This program has been approved by the Pennsylvania Continuing Legal Education Board for three hours of substantive law, practice and procedure CLE credit, both for the live program in University Park and the interactive video program in Carlisle. The public is welcome to attend. 

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