Second Major



Megan Echevarria

Advisor Department

Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures




Asylum; Asylum Law; Latin America Asylum; Latin American Migration; Latin America


The United States is no stranger to asylum seekers and refugees. The most famous seaport in the country houses a 305-foot-tall statue of a woman bearing a torch with words from the poem The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus etched at her feet: “‘Give me your tired, your poor, /Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.’”[1] The Statue of Liberty is a symbolic representation of open arms to immigrants from all walks of life. But if everyone is welcome, why do so few actually gain entrance?

US interventionism policies in the 20th century have defined the lives of millions of Latin American citizens and created or contributed to deteriorating political, social, and economic conditions. These, along with the threat of violence from persecutory groups, is a common cause of forced migration. Due to its geographic position and relative stability, the United States offers an appealing location for many individuals who must flee their homes. However, entry into the United States as a migrant is not an easy task. Many who reach the southern border apply for asylum to escape persecution, only to discover that not all violence is protected and the process itself takes time with no guaranteed result. The process of asylum in the United States is a complicated and extensive procedure riddled with injustice, frequently failing to protect the most vulnerable. By studying the history and trends of asylum policies in the United States we hope to learn more about the system in place in our country and how years of policy changes have impacted one of the largest groups of asylum seekers and refugees. Furthermore, by contrasting these trends against comparable countries, we can evaluate their balance and identify potential areas for change.

[1] "The New Colossus." National Parks Service. August 14, 2019. Accessed March 20, 2021.

Dickinson_Abstract.pdf (83 kB)

Dickinson_poster final.pdf (1002 kB)