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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Professor Michael Kagan Publishes Article on Israel's Refusal of Syrian Refugees

Professor Michael Kagan is Co-Director of the Immigration Clinic at the William S. Boyd School of Law.

His article, "Must Israel Accept Syrian Refugees?" was recently published in Volume 50 of the Texas International Law Journal at The University of Texas School of Law.

Israel stands alone as the only country bordering Syria that has refused to accept a single Syrian refugee. By contrast, Lebanon hosted close to 1 million as of March. Israel has long followed a policy of refusing asylum to "enemy nationals," and early this year, the Israeli High Court turned back an appeal by a teenage Syrian girl to apply for asylum in Israel.

The article reads, "Long before Syrians took to the streets against Bashar al-Asaad, Israel's policy was to refuse asylum to 'subjects of enemy or hostile states.' Even if Israel never receives the kind of refugee influx seen by Syria's other neighbors, this policy deserves new legal scrutiny." 

In his article, Professor Kagan shows that Israel's policy is illegal under international law, and Israel's courts must ensure that the country does not send Syrians fleeing from the turmoil back to a country where they would be persecuted.

He concludes, "Israel has latitude to screen out individuals who reasonably may be considered to pose a security threat. Israel may also take specific measures against individuals who may pose a security threat while their cases are being examined. But it cannot legally bar Syrians per se from seeking asylum."

Professor Kagan has written several of the most widely cited articles in the fields of refugee and asylum law. His research on credibility assessment in asylum cases has been repeatedly relied on by federal appellate courts and, according to a 2012 commentary, has "guided most subsequent research and analysis on the topic."