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Immigration Law

Race, Religion and Refugees

Laura E. Alexander, Jane Hong, Karen Hooge Michalka and Luis A. Romero, Apr. 28, 2022

"The different treatment of Ukrainian versus Central American, African, Haitian and other asylum seekers has prompted criticism that the administration is enforcing immigration policies in racist ways, favoring white, European, mostly Christian refugees over other groups. This issue is not new. As scholars of religionraceimmigration, and racial and religious politics in the United States, we study both historical and current immigration policy. We argue that U.S. refugee and asylum policy has long been racially and religiously discriminatory in practice. ... International agreements for refugees and asylum seekers clearly state that admissions should be based on need. In principle, U.S. law says this as well. But these key moments in United States history show how race, religion and other factors play a role in determining who is in, and who is out. While refugees from the war in Ukraine deserve support from the United States and other countries, the contrast between the treatment of different groups of refugees shows that the process of gaining refuge in the United States is still far from equitable."