The Path of Most Resistance: Resisting Gang Recruitment as a Political Opinion in Central America’s Join-or-Die Gang Culture

Comment by: Ericka Welsh

44 PEPP. L. REV. 1083 (2017)

In recent years, increasing numbers of asylum-seekers from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador crossed into the United States, fleeing gang violence that has driven homicide rates to record levels.  These countries, known collectively as the “Northern Triangle,” now make up one of the most violent regions in the world.  Transcending petty crime, gangs control entire communities in the Northern Triangle where they operate as de facto governments beyond law enforcement’s control.  Gangs practice forced recruitment in these communities, creating a join-or-die gang culture where resisting recruitment is tantamount to opposition.  Opposition, in turn, is met with brutal retaliation.

The young men and women who refuse to join are fleeing to the United States and seeking asylum.  However, United States courts routinely reject these asylum applicants under a restrictive interpretation of political asylum, failing to recognize the current realities of gang culture in the Northern Triangle.  This Comment reviews gang-based political asylum claims under the courts’
restrictive interpretation, analyzes these cases in their socio-political context, and explores a path to political asylum under a holistic asylum framework.  Ultimately, this Comment advocates for an approach that properly accounts for the socio-political realities of the region while realigning federal asylum law with its original humanitarian and protective purpose.

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Disrupting Immigration: How Administrative Rulemaking Could Transform the Landscape for Immigrant Entrepreneurs

Article by: Tess Douglas

44 PEPP. L. REV. 199 (2016)

Immigrant entrepreneurs come to the United States and start thriving companies that create jobs, drive the economy, and facilitate innovation. However, U.S. laws do not provide a clear path for immigrant entrepreneurs to lawfully enter and work in America. Therefore, immigrant entrepreneurs must seek lawful status in the United States through unusual routes. While Congress, the President, and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recognize the need for clear and accessible immigration standards for immigrant entrepreneurs, the politicized nature of immigration law has impeded significant change.

This Comment details how administrative rules could offer a less politicized and more certain route for immigrant entrepreneurs. Specifically, this Comment examines how nonbinding policy memoranda and interpretive rules could provide substantial benefits to immigrant entrepreneurs. This manner of promulgating rules fits within USCIS’s administrative authority, and would enable immigrant entrepreneurs to focus on innovating their businesses rather than navigating the immigration system.

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