Reparations for Central American Refugees

51 Pages Posted: 15 May 2019 Last revised: 20 Jun 2019

See all articles by Sarah Sherman-Stokes

Sarah Sherman-Stokes

Boston University School of Law Immigrants' Rights Clinic

Date Written: May 1, 2019


In the midst of vicious and unrelenting attacks on Central American asylum seekers in the United States, this Article seeks to understand historic and present-day patterns of animus and discrimination facing this group of refugees, and to propose solutions. This Article begins by examining decades of prejudice faced by Central American asylum seekers, as well as attempts to right those wrongs through litigation, legislation, and the creation of Temporary Protected Status (TPS). Next, this Article identifies the predominant push and pull factors driving Central American refugees north—and the U.S. role in creating them. The Article then lays out the impact of this Administration’s systemic attacks on Central American asylum seekers, in particular, through family separation and zero-tolerance, the asylum ban and Matter of A-B-, and the framework in which refugees should be permitted to seek protection under current U.S. law. Finally, this Article evaluates several potential solutions including humanitarian asylum, an expansion of TPS, and litigation. Ultimately, this Article concludes that, in light of decades of abuse and prejudice directed at this class of refugees, the only adequate means of reparation is congressional legislation that would carve out special, tailored protections for this vulnerable group.

Keywords: refugees, reparations, US Law, congressional legislation, immigration, asylum seekers

Suggested Citation

Sherman-Stokes, Sarah, Reparations for Central American Refugees (May 1, 2019). Denver Law Review, Vol. 96, No. 3, 2019, Boston Univ. School of Law, Public Law Research Paper , Available at SSRN:

Sarah Sherman-Stokes (Contact Author)

Boston University School of Law Immigrants' Rights Clinic ( email )

765 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
United States
617-358-6272 (Phone)

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