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Center for Human Rights and International Justice

PDHRP Human Rights Day 2012 Statement

human rights day 2012: a reflection on deportation

Roundtable Discussion of an International Convention on the Rights of Deportees
Photo from Nov. 17 Roundtable Discussion of an International Convention on the Rights of Deportees

                                                                                   Monday, December 10,2012

Over the past nearly two decades, immigrants in the U.S. have been subjected to an increasing range of systematic human rights violations, including arbitrary arrest, mandatory and prolonged detention, and deportation without consideration for family ties, length of residence in the U.S., or other humanitarian factors. The Post-Deportation Human Rights Project (PDHRP), based at the Center for Human Rights and the International Justice at Boston College, was established in 2005 to offer a novel and multi-tiered approach to the problem of harsh unlawful deportations from the United States.

Today, as the international community celebrates Human Rights Day and commemorates the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we reaffirm our commitment to human rights advocacy through the advancement of legal predictability, proportionality, compassion, and respect for human rights in the immigration system of the United States and beyond.


The massive increase in the use of deportation as a mechanism for
border and "post-entry social control*" in the United States and around the world has devastating effects in both sending and receiving states. In the case of deportations from the United States, this phenomenon has led to the emergence of a "new American diaspora*" - deportees who culturally identify as American and are alone and isolated in their countries of deportation.

*Terms coined by Daniel Kanstroom in his latest book, Aftermath: Deportation Law and the New American Diaspora (Oxford University Press 2012)


Out of a need to address these international human rights violations and to identify deportees as a cognizable class- much as international law has come to recognize refugees and victims of human trafficking before them- PDHRP has launched the drafting of an International Convention on the Rights of Deportees. The draft Convention calls for adherence to the standards set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and, much like it, is predicated on fundamental notions of proportionality, fairness, judicial discretion, state responsibility, compassion, gender and racial equality and respect for the family unity. This legal framework on the rights of deportees and the responsibilities of the nation-states was recently welcomed as an innovative first step by national immigration and human rights experts who gathered at Boston College Law School to discuss this initiative.

This most recent work has built on our experience and is a natural extension of the entirely novel area of post-deportation law, which the project has conceptualized by providing direct representation to the individuals who have been deported. This year, PDHRP also secured a significant legal victory ensuring that wrongfully deported individuals can challenge their cases even after having been deported. PDHRP will continue this commitment to human rights advocacy and to its mission to promote the rights of deportees and their family member s through impact litigation, policy analysis, media advocacy, training programs, and participatory action research.

For more information about PDHRP and our work, visit us at