15 Berkeley J. Int'l L. 1 (1997)
The Internatinoal Dimension of U.S. Refugee Law

handle is hein.journals/berkjintlw15 and id is 7 raw text is: The International Dimension of U.S.
Refugee Law
Joan Fitzpatrick*
The regulation of transboundary migration inherently implicates relations
between nation states. Refugee law, in particular, draws heavily upon agreed
international standards. The United States chose to join the international refugee
regime by ratifying the 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees (Proto-
col) in 1968.1 In enacting the Refugee Act of 1980,2 Congress pointedly sig-
naled its intention to conform U.S. refugee law to our international legal
obligations.3 A striking similarity in terminology exists between Article 1 of the
1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees4 (Convention) and the U.S.
asylum provisions,  101(a)(42)(A) and 208 of the Immigration and National-
ity Act5 (INA). Especially significant is the close resemblance between the do-
*   Professor of Law and Foundation Scholar, University of Washington School of Law; B.A.
Rice University; J.D. Harvard Law School; Diploma in Law, Oxford University. My thanks go to
my research assistant Dorothy Liu and to the University of Washington Law School Foundation for
research support, and to Patty Blum, Daniel Bodansky, Scott Busby, Kevin Johnson and Jennifer
Moore for comments.
1. Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees, done Jan. 31, 1967, entered into force Oct. 4,
1967, 19 U.S.T. 6223, T.I.A.S. No. 6577, 606 U.N.T.S. 267 [hereinafter Protocoll. By ratifying the
Protocol, the United States bound itself to respect Articles 2 through 34 of the 1951 Convention
relating to the Status of Refugees, done July 28, 1951, entered into force Apr. 22, 1954, 189
U.N.T.S. 137.
2. Refugee Act, Pub. L. No. 96-212, 94 Stat. 102.
3. See, e.g., H.R. Conf. Rep. No. 781, 96th Cong., 2d Sess. 19, reprinted in 1980
U.S.C.C.A.N. 160, 160; S. Rep. No. 256, 96th Cong., 1st Sess. 4 (1979), reprinted in 1980 U.S.
Code Cong. & Admin. News 141, 144; H.R. Rep. No. 608, 96th Cong. 1st Sess. 9 (1979).
4. Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, opened for signature July 28, 1951, 19
U.S.T. 6259, 189 U.N.T.S. 150 [hereinafter Convention]. Article 1A(2) of the Convention defines a
refugee as a person who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race,
religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the
country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the
protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his
former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to
return to it.
5. Immigration and Nationality Act [hereinafter INA]. 8 U.S.C.  101(a)(42)(A) et. seq.
INA  101(a)(42)(A) defines a refugee as any person who is outside any country of such person's
nationality or, in the case of a person having no nationality, is outside any country in which such
person last habitually resided, and who is unable or unwilling to return to, and is unable or unwilling
to avail himself or herself of the protection of, that country because of persecution or a well-founded
fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group,

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