Coutin, Susan Bibler, 2011. “Falling Outside: Excavating the History of Central American Asylum Seekers” Law & Social Inquiry. “The 1980s: Asylum Denied” on pages 574-577.

This image shows an El Salvador mother saying goodbye to her family as she seeks asylum in Canada. This is an important image because it humanizes the asylum seekers.

Throughout history asylum seekers, especially those from Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala, have struggled with gaining citizenship or aid from the United States. In this article, “Falling Outside: Excavating the History of Central American Asylum Seeker: The 1980s: Asylum Denied”  Susan Bibler Coutin writes about how interpreting the laws of what exactly human rights are has an affect on how we see asylum seekers. In the 1980’s one of the huge problems that asylum seekers faced was how to prove that there reason for fleeing their home countries was an exceptional case according to US asylum law. This struggle has not ended even in present times as definitions and meanings are constantly changing and political pressure is ever looming on lawmakers. The article shows through cases, such as the Ramirez boys in 2006, that the law was not impartial to anyone even children who were brought across the border. The key point of the article was to show that the interpretation of the law of asylum seekers in an important aspect of allowing from immigration into the country and aid for those in need of help.  This article goes through the many cases of study that provide examples of asylum seekers and their families. It shows the struggles that they went through and in some cases how even after their struggles, some of the families were still deported; which is a key issue in the United States asylum law.

Susan Bibler Coutin is a professor at UCI, with a Ph.D. from Stanford in sociocultural anthropology. She specializes in topics of law, immigration, human rights, citizenship and other areas. Coutin shows the importance of being able to not only understand law, but also that understanding political motivation is a key component in knowing why gaining asylum is not an easy task. Although this article addresses on Central America as a whole, it focuses on El Salvador the most. El Salvador is a key country in this piece because it is where Coutin has focused a lot of her research in. Her research includes an  examination of the social, political, and legal activism surrounding immigration issues, particularly immigration from El Salvador to the United States.

“Falling Outside: Excavating the History of Central American Asylum Seeker: The 1980s: Asylum Denied” is an important article not only to this class, but also in understanding the struggles that asylum seekers face. It is also important in my own personal research for the class, which focuses on why people migrate, specifically from El Salvador, to the United States and the issues that they face when seeking help. It gives an insight on the laws in which there are when concerning asylum seekers, which is important when understanding the risks that asylum seekers take when leaving countries that they feel are violating there human rights.

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