Political Asylum Under the 1980 Refugee Act: An Unfulfilled Promise

Part I of this Article reviews the history and development of asylum law in the United States which culminated in the passage of the Refugee Act of 1980. It analyzes the failure of the responsible administrative authorities to follow the dictates of the law – a circumstance which prompted the passage of the Act and which now threatens to subvert the right to asylum in the United States. Part II considers the impact on asylum seekers of new alien interdiction and detention programs, and the legality of those programs under domestic and international law. Finally, Part III makes specific recommendations, including proposals for changes in the administration of asylum law in the United States, with a view toward depoliticizing the process and ensuring prompt and fair adjudications.