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The Fight to Preserve Safe Haven in the United States

Panelists from L-R: Karen Grisez, Laura Pena, Denise Gilman, Melissa Crow, and Oscar Chacon

Panelists from L-R: Karen Grisez, Laura Pena, Denise Gilman, Melissa Crow, and Oscar Chacon

Friday, February 14, 2020
1:30 - 3:00 p.m.
JW Marriott Austin
Grand Ballroom, Salon 1


The United States has recently retreated from its domestic and international obligations to provide safe-haven to refugees and asylum-seekers fleeing war, persecution, and civil and domestic strife.  This rapid reversal has been achieved through various forms of executive action including the reversal of long-standing legal precedent at the Board of Immigration Appeals, the implementation of new bars to asylum, the slashing of refugee admissions, and the expansion of the “Remain in Mexico” program formally known as the “Migrant Protection Protocols.” The dismantling of our asylum system is especially troubling in a country that was founded on principles of religious and political freedom. In this program you will hear from national experts who will discuss how these changes have affected individuals fleeing persecution and how they have impacted core principles of due process and access to counsel. While Congress has failed to pass any related legislation, the federal courts have blocked some of the most restrictive policies, while allowing others to proceed.  Our panelists will discuss challenges facing the immigration system and offer recommendations to resolve them.  At the end of the day, we will be judged on how we respond to current day challenges.  


  • Denise Gilman, University of Texas School of Law
  • Karen Grisez, Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP
  • Laura Peña, ABA South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project (ProBAR) 
  • Melissa Crow, Southern Poverty Law Center
  • Oscar Chacón, Alianza Americas