Document Type

Thesis

Publication Date

2012

Abstract

This project examines the way in which the United States forms its asylum and refugee policies. Specifically, it examines the case of asylum and refugee policy towards Nicaragua from 1979 to 1989. The question posed is the following: Why and how does the United States government create asylum and refugee policies? Traditionally the United States’ asylum and refugee policies have largely been understood as being “receptionist” to individuals fleeing states deemed hostile by the United States government and “restrictionist” to individuals fleeing states deemed non-hostile. The case of Nicaragua complicates this picture, though, as asylum and refugee acceptance rates throughout the early 1980s remained low compared to asylum seekers from other “hostile” states. Still in the mid to late 1980s, these same asylum and refugee numbers increased markedly to levels higher than any other national group applying for asylum status within the United States during that period of time. While this statistical evidence may initially lead one to assume that the notion that the United States’ asylum and refugee policies are tied to its foreign policy considerations is false, this is not the case. Instead this project finds that foreign policy considerations as envisioned by key governmental actors significantly impact how asylum and refugee policies are formed. In addition, due to the changing nature of these foreign policy considerations as envisioned by governmental leaders, there are also changes in asylum and refugee policy, which is found in the case of Nicaragua from 1979 to 1989.

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