Forensic Medical Evaluations for Asylum Seekers

Inaugural International Legal Education Public Service Fellow Daedra Staten has undertaken research concerning potential legal liability for physicians who conduct forensic medical evaluations (FMEs) for asylum seekers in the U.S. FMEs are often used to objectively evaluate the veracity and extent of an asylum seeker’s reports of physical and/or psychological trauma, which can serve as the foundation for the asylum claim.

In particular, Staten’s research engaged the question of liability for physicians who conduct FMEs as part of university or campus-based asylum clinics. In recent years, as claims of political asylum have increased, FMEs have increased as well. In response, numerous universities across the country have created asylum clinics whereby forensic psychologists, physicians, and students offer pro bono medical (and legal) services to asylum seekers, including the provision of FMEs. The Health and Human Rights Law Project has undertaken this effort to aid UCLA medical faculty who wish to offer free FMEs to asylum seekers in Los Angeles.

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