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Migrant Interdiction Conference Will Explore the Legacy of Sale v. Haitian Centers Council

In recent decades, migrants have increasingly turned to dangerous maritime routes in their attempts to access the asylum systems and labor markets of the Global North. In the early 1980s, the United States was the first country to respond to such arrivals with a high seas interdiction program, initially conceived of as a means of intercepting Haitian asylum seekers before they reached U.S. territory. In its 1993 Sale v. Haitian Centers Council decision, the Supreme Court held that neither the Refugee Convention nor domestic immigration statutes constrained the executive’s capacity to interdict and return asylum seekers at sea. In the wake of 9/11 and the border control anxieties it sparked, several individual European countries, the European Union, and Australia adopted variants of the U.S. migrant interdiction approach.

Legal scholars, legal practitioners, and policymakers with both theoretical and practical insights into the extraterritorial migrant interdiction regimes that have emerged over the past several decades will gather at Yale Law School on March 7 and 8 for a conference on “The Globalization of High Seas Interdiction: Sale’s Legacy and Beyond.”

Harold Hongju Koh, Sterling Professor of International Law at Yale Law School, and Alexander Aleinikoff ’77, Deputy High Commissioner, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, will deliver the conference’s keynote addresses.

The conference will provide an opportunity for participants to debate pressing questions related to the global rise of migrant interdiction, including the lawfulness and prudence of such programs, the concerns they raise with regard to balancing national security concerns and human rights commitments, and the role of transnational law reform campaigns in both challenging and solidifying the position of migrant interdiction in the contemporary juridical landscape.

The conference schedule, list of panelists, and registration are available online.

The conference is being organized by Tendayi Achiume '08, Binder Teaching Fellow, UCLA School of Law; Jeffrey Kahn '10, Academy Scholar, Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies; and Itamar Mann '10 LLM, National Security Law Fellow, Georgetown Law Center. The conference is sponsored by The Orville H. Schell, Jr. Center for International Human Rights at Yale Law School, The Ford Foundation, and The Immigration Practice and Theory Workshop.