UC Law SF International Law Review


Angela Botelho


The 1980 Refugee Act was created to replace earlier ad hoc measures with a comprehensive refugee admissions program. To this end, the 1980 Refugee Act adopted a non-ideological refugee definition from the 1967 United Nations Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees. Discriminatory patterns in refugee admissions persisted after 1980, however, due in part to procedural requirements incorporated from earlier immigration legislation and in part to State Department input into the newly created asylum procedures under the 1980 Act. The treatment afforded Salvadoran refugees demonstrates the continued ideological thrust of refugee admissions after 1980. This Note suggests an application of the term "membership in a social group" in the 1980 Act's refugee definition as a means of affording a more equitable resolution to Salvadoran and other refugee claims. Such an application, it is contended, would be more in keeping with the 1980 Act's non-ideological language and broad humanitarian intent.