By Christine Caldera, KAP Research Manager
The Korbel Asylum Project (KAP) has completed its second year! Operating thanks in part to the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning (CCESL’s) Public Good Fund, KAP is a collaboration of student human rights researchers and pro bono attorneys representing asylum seekers in the Denver area. In this partnership, student researchers investigate the conditions of asylum seekers’ countries of origin and produce comprehensive country condition reports to support the plausibility of asylum seekers’ claims in their asylum applications. Country condition reports on asylum seekers’ home countries are a critical element of an asylum application and can be prohibitively costly for indigent asylum seekers and their pro bono attorneys. However, with free country condition reports, KAP is able to provide these asylum seekers and their attorneys with research that they would otherwise be unable to afford.
With the guidance of Professor Oliver Kaplan at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, KAP was formally launched in the first quarter of the 2016-2017 school year and grew out of student interest to make a bigger impact in the Denver community by applying their acquired research skills from the Korbel curriculum. Throughout this academic year, we have increased the number of community partnerships with pro bono attorneys in the Denver area, strengthened KAP membership, and improved KAP’s visibility by participating in an interview for the Korbel Research Series. In the Fall quarter, four Korbel student researchers produced five country reports on specific social groups and types of persecution in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Nepal. Between Winter and Spring quarter, KAP membership grew from the four to twenty trained and dedicated student researchers. In addition to training new students, KAP provided fourteen country condition reports to pro bono attorneys and organizations such as the Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network (RMIAN). Many individual asylum seekers also received a tailored country condition report to support their asylum cases. It is evident that student participation in KAP not only provides students with meaningful human rights research experience, but the research produced has the potential to impact an individual’s claim to safety in the United States.
Current KAP Research Managers, Christine Caldera and Emma Heffernan, graduate this June and KAP leadership will transition to two new Research Managers, Lottie Dungan and Rosie O’Connor. In the upcoming academic year, KAP hopes to recruit additional student researchers within different graduate and undergraduate programs at the University of Denver (DU) and will take on a greater volume of cases while continuing to foster new community partnerships with attorneys.