Washington Law Review


To receive asylum in the United States, persons must show that they are "refugees." They do so by demonstrating fear of persecution on account of political opinion, race, religion, nationality, or social group membership. The most common basis for an asylum claim is political opinion. However, there is no consistently applied interpretation of "persecution on account of political opinion" in United States law. An appropriate construction of the term would consider its development in the historical context of refugee law. This Comment explores the spirit of international instruments and interpretive materials, as well as United States legislative history behind the Refugee Act of 1980. An analysis of these materials will provide a more accurate interpretation of "persecution on account of political opinion" and present a clearer picture of a "refugee."

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