Sabrineh Ardalan, Director of the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program, has contributed the latest article on the Rethinking Refuge website.
In Refugee Eligibility: Challenging Stereotypes and Reviving the ‘Benefit of the Doubt’, she considers the effects of a new proposal by the Trump administration in the US “that would rewrite the refugee definition and cut off most asylum seekers from protection. Specifically, the rule would make ‘evidence based on stereotypes’ inadmissible.” As she says, at face value making evidence based on stereotypes inadmissible is not unobjectionable, but she continues, “because of the corroborating evidence so often required to establish asylum eligibility, the provision would make it difficult, if not impossible, for many to obtain protection.”
She also notes, however, that the proposal presents an opportunity for advocates, scholars, and adjudicators to “take a step back and interrogate the corroboration requirements in U.S. asylum law, including the type of country condition documentation necessary in order to establish eligibility for protection.”
It is time, she says, to “rethink the evidence so often submitted and relied upon in asylum claims, to dial back the corroboration demands, and to return to a core principle of refugee law – the need to afford asylum seekers the benefit of the doubt.”