Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 11/2010

Denial and Delay: The Impact of the Immigration Law's "Terrorism Bars" on Asylum Seekers and Refugees in the United States

November 2009

Human Rights First


IMMIGRATION LAWS that target individuals who have engaged in or supported the commission of terrorist acts serve two very legitimate goals: to exclude from the United States people who threaten our national security, and to penalize people who have engaged in or supported acts of violence that are inherently wrongful and condemned under U.S. and international law. Both of these purposes are consistent with the United States’ commitment to protect refugees who have fled political, religious and other forms of persecution. Indeed, the 1951 Refugee Convention and its Protocol explicitly exclude from protection persons who have committed a range of serious crimes, including acts of terrorism. The Refugee Convention also allows a country to expel a refugee who poses a danger to its security, or who has been convicted of a particularly serious crime in that country and constitutes a danger to the community.