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Exploring Basic Asylum Dilemmas and Misconceptions

The presentation will explore the concept of asylum to help us understand the options available to rich western countries that are having difficulty with rising asylum claims as we (hopefully) enter a post-pandemic period. Whether at the EU’s external frontiers (e.g. the Mediterranean sea routes, the Belarus-Poland border, the fences at Ceuta and Melilla) or Roxham Road on the QC-NY border, the irregular arrival of large groups of migrants claiming asylum is on the rise and governments appear paralyzed by the policy dilemmas. An independent researcher trying to understand asylum could be excused for being confused about basic principles given the official statements of openness from some political leaders and institutions that clash with the reality of government interdiction measures. Some light can be shed on the confusion by exploring certain legal, political and ethical aspects of asylum. Is there a genuine right to asylum in international law? Can anyone from anywhere claim asylum at our borders? Do asylum seekers get to decide where they can claim asylum? The talk will explore these questions in order to encourage an honest discussion that identifies realistic options for dealing with the often-tragic asylum situations at our borders.