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Experts: New Conditions Challenge Old Asylum Law

November 28, 2023 (1 min read)

Miriam Jordan, New York Times, Nov. 28, 2023

"The story of the Miskito who have left their ancestral home to come 2,500 miles to the U.S.-Mexico border is in many ways familiar. Like others coming from Central and South America, they are fleeing failed states and street violence. But their lawyers also hope to test a novel idea: Extreme weather wrought by climate change can be grounds for asylum, a protection established more than seven decades ago in the aftermath of World War II and the Holocaust. “Our asylum law was crafted when climate change wasn’t even being contemplated, and we are now very aware this is going to be one of the biggest issues of the century,” Ann Garcia, a lawyer at the National Immigration Project, said. It is working with the nonprofit Together and Free to assist the Miskito. ... “The general public is becoming less accepting of asylum as a remedy because there are so many people being creative in applying for it,” Stephen Yale-Loehr, a professor of immigration law at Cornell Law School, said. ... “When people think of asylum, they imagine a government official pointing a gun at someone’s head,” Mr. Yale-Loehr said. “They don’t think of crop failures or sea levels rising because of climate change.”