The U.S. Fulbright program announced that Professor Maryellen Fullerton, a scholar in comparative refugee law, has been appointed to the Distinguished Chair in Law at the University of Trento during the 2012-2013 academic year. This is Professor Fullerton’s second Fulbright Award. She received her first Fulbright Scholar Award to study comparative asylum systems in Belgium and Germany in 1986-1987.
“Receiving this award brings my career full circle,” Fullerton said. “Twenty-five years ago my Fulbright to the University of Louvain in Belgium transformed my research, teaching, and world view. Now I hope to begin to repay the debt by sharing with the undergraduate and doctoral students at Trento the expertise I have developed in comparative refugee and asylum law and the skills I have honed as a successful law teacher.”
Fullerton’s work at the University of Trento will compare the laws of Italy, the European Union, and the United States as they have evolved in response to the phenomenon of forced migration. Her research will examine the ways in which the governments have reacted to refugees and asylum seekers. In particular, she will analyze the extent to which Italy, a major southern gateway to the European Union, has diverged from other EU Member States in the reception, processing, and substantive decisions regarding asylum seekers and refugees. The recent arrival of thousands of asylum seekers on Lampedusa, the small Italian island near the coast of North Africa, has brought publicity, notoriety, and discord between Italy and its neighbors concerning the subsequent movements of foreigners arriving from North Africa. The Italian government’s efforts to provide temporary travel documents to asylum seekers has met with stiff resistance from other EU Member States, who accuse Italy of neglecting its duty to receive and process the forced migrants who land on Italian territory.
Fullerton said that the current circumstances present rich research opportunities. “The Common European Asylum System (CEAS) adopted a minimum standards approach, allowing each EU Member State significant leeway so long as it does not reduce refugee protection below the agreed minimum,” she said. “As a result, divergences in policy and practice are to be expected. Identifying the divergences and their impact will shed light on the actual functioning of the common European asylum law in Italy and elsewhere.”
Fullerton is the co-author of two leading immigration law casebooks in the United States, Immigration and Citizenship Law: Process and Policy (7th ed. 2012) and Forced Migration: Law and Policy (2007). More than 100 law schools and universities throughout the United States use these texts. For the past three years, Fullerton has also been the Editor-in-Chief of the Refugee Law Reader, a free online curriculum and course book in refugee law. It was created to provide intellectual resources to new legal clinics in law faculties in Eastern Europe, and the Refugee Law Reader has become an important teaching and advocacy resource used around the world.
She was a German Marshall Fund Fellow in Budapest, Hungary in 1994-1995 and a Visiting Scholar at the Juan March Institute, Center for Advanced Studies in Social Sciences in Madrid, Spain in 2001-2002. She has taught at Brooklyn Law School since 1980 in the areas of comparative refugee law, immigration law, international criminal law, international law, civil procedure, and federal courts.
Lisen to an interview with Professor Fullerton.