The Public Interest

The politics of asylum

Peter H. Schuck

Fall 2000

BISMARCK famously observed that legislation, like sausage, is  something one would rather not see being made. Philip Schrag, whose office is within a stone’s throw of the nation’s law factory, thinks otherwise. But Schrag’s meticulous and valuable chronicle of his immersion in one legislative struggle, titled A Well-Founded Fear: The Congressional Battle to Save Political Asylum in America, † provides ample support for the Iron Chancellor’s sarcasm. More surprising, however, it also supports Schrag’s claim that Congress is remarkably accessible and responsive to the demands of even obscure groups—so long as they have dramatic stories to tell and can tell them well. Many will find this as reassuring as he does, while others-quite apart from this particular struggle over asylum policy—will find in it cause for concern. 

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