San Diego Law Review


Karen Musalo

Library of Congress Authority File


Document Type



In this Article, Professor Musalo argues that fulfillment of the letter and spirit of the Refugee Act requires granting asylum to "conscientious objectors." The U.S. passed the Refugee Act in 1980 and set forth within it a definition of refugee. Overtime, the INS has advocated for a limitation to this definition and the Board of Immigration Appeals (Board) has generally acquiesced. As interpreted, the young man who flees his home country rather than be forced to join the military and participate in activities in violation of his religious, moral, or political convictions either can not seek political asylum in the U.S. or must overcome insurmountable hurdles. The author reviews the issue in reference to United Nations documents and federal and Board precedent. In conclusion, the author notes the developing international trend toward recognition of conscientious objection as a fundamental human right.