Karen Musalo: Fighter for Refugee Rights

I spent the last couple of days at the national workshop for immigration law professors and clinicians at Hofstra Law School. One of the real stars there was Karen Musalo, who ran a panel on political asylum protections. Karen was a young colleague working out in California on Central American immigrant defense back in the 1980s. I remember her as one of the people who introduced the idea of gender-based political asylum claims at a time when many immigration judges did not even think that something as heinous as rape could be an act of persecution. Since then, Karen has done more than just about anyone to front-burner the protection of women fleeing societies where their lives are degraded and threatened by embedded ideologies of male supremacy.

Karen received an honorary doctorate last month from Lehman College for her extraordinary scholarship, teaching, and advocacy. There are many women refugees alive today because of her work.

Long Island was honored by Doctor Musalo’s presence.

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Patrick Young blogs daily for Long Island Wins. He is the Downstate Advocacy Director of the New York Immigration Coalition and Special Professor of Immigration Law at Hofstra School of Law. He served as the Director of Legal Services and Program at Central American Refugee Center (CARECEN) for three decades before retiring in 2019. Pat is also a student of immigration history and the author of The Immigrants' Civil War.

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