The impact of sound representation is never lost on Analía Cascone ’16 LL.M. An attorney serving asylum-seeking clients in Argentina’s National Public Defender’s Office, she knows her legal guidance can mean the difference between a return ticket home and a brand new life.
“If someone’s refugee status is rejected, it’s very hard to get that decision overturned, almost impossible,” explains Cascone, whose office takes hundreds of cases each year. “Sometimes you wonder if you’re making a difference, but anytime you can convince the authorities to recognize your client as a refugee, you feel like you’re making an impact.”
A native of Buenos Aires, Cascone says the importance of her work rests not only in those victories, but also in the fact that her country is providing free representation to all asylum-seekers in need, an unusual public service. She has spent more than three years working with refugees hailing from as far as Syria and Ukraine to as close as Colombia. Since 2013, Cascone has also served as coordinator of her division, helping develop legal and policy strategies.
Now a Fulbright Scholar and recipient of the Law School’s Catherine N. Niarchos Fund for Human Rights Scholarship, Cascone joined the LL.M. Human Rights Fellowship program to broaden her perspective. During her time at the Law School, she has visited the World Bank in Washington, D.C., for example, and, as a research assistant for Professor Sarah H. Cleveland, has helped report on the implementation of the United Nations’ International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Cascone is also using her time at the Law School to consider the complex themes related to her legal practice, specifically rethinking the difference between a refugee and a migrant, and why the law categorizes people in such ways.
“I’m getting the chance here at Columbia to step back and think about all these issues,” she says. “After several years doing the same thing, you need to take a step back to see if you can do things in a different way, or come up with new ideas.”