University of Miami International and Comparative Law Review


This Note argues that U.S. interdiction of asylum seekers at sea and the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) program undermine the object and purpose of international refugee law. The U.S. Government uses both practices to evade its international obligation of non-refoulement, or non-return. Such practices unjustly restrict access to asylum in the U.S. These policies can be characterized as tools of “neo-refoulement.” Neo-refoulement is a strategy used to foreclose the possibility of asylum. It allows States parties to the 1951 Refugee Convention to evade their international obligation to refrain from returning people to places where they may be at risk of harm. Section I provides a brief history of the origins and spirit of refugee law. Section II discusses the Baker cases, which laid the groundwork for enforcing U.S. interdiction and return practices. Section III discusses Sale v. Haitian Centers Council, Inc., a Supreme Court case that sanctioned those practices. Section IV discusses how the MPP continues the U.S. Government’s pattern of neo-refoulement. Section V briefly discusses the MPP’s procedural history at the time of writing.