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Asylum in the United States and the European Union: Legal and Systemic Challenges from a Decade of Deterrence Policy

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Over the past decade, the United States and the European Union have adopted major changes to asylum policy and enforcement, specifically the increase of deterrence policies contrary to international asylum

Over the past decade, the United States and the European Union have adopted major changes to asylum policy and enforcement, specifically the increase of deterrence policies contrary to international asylum norms. The goal of this has been to reduce the pull factors towards the US and EU. Deterrence policies have largely been characterized by two main strategies: (1) deterrence at the border through stricter regulations and detention policies, and (2) deterrence through the creation of formal buffer zone countries between the asylum seekers’ countries of origin and the ultimate country of destination. These policies have been instituted in response to the spike in Central American asylum seekers at the US/Mexico border and Syrian asylum seekers at the Greece/Turkey border at the entrance of the EU. This paper compares these two separate geographic areas––the US and EU––due to their roles in the development of international law, their roles in the development and management of these crises, and the similar increase of asylum seekers in 2014-15. This paper also details the severity of the conditions in the asylee-sending areas––Central America and Syria––which are major “push factors” driving the crises. Finally, this paper explores the novel use of Mexico and Turkey as formal buffer zones by the United Staes and the European Union, respectively. The increase of deterrence policies culminating in the creation of formal buffer zones countries violates key principles of international asylum law, namely non-refoulement. These buffer zones must be redesigned proactively to better suit the realities of asylum in the 21st century.

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  • 2019-05