Date of Award

Fall 2023

Degree Type


Director of Thesis

Dr. Austin Crane

First Reader

Dr. Caroline Nagel

Second Reader

Dr. Caroline Nagel


Country-of-origin information reports provide purportedly objective information on the political, economic, security, and humanitarian situation of a certain country. Within the context of asylum adjudication, country-of-origin information reports provide contextual information on the country-of-origin of the person seeking asylum. Academic literature on the legal use and application of these reports is limited, with the majority of research being contained within the European context. This thesis uses interviews with legal practitioners from the United States to investigate the use of country-of-origin information reports in the asylum adjudication process. These interviews revealed the uses of country-of-origin information reports by 3 key actors within the legal space of the immigration court. Then, content and discourse analysis of the US Department of State country reports is used to uncover the situated knowledges and geographical imaginations being presented within these reports, specifically relating to the countries of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. This research takes a particular focus on the framings of the gendered risks of persecution due to the large number of women fleeing gender-based violence from these countries. This research opens up conversation on the role that country-of-origin information reports play in the juridical bordering of the United States and the exclusion of certain nationalities from gaining international protection. This thesis demonstrates preliminary evidence of political influence on the representations of places within the US Department of State reports, in particular, the representations of violence and persecution experienced by women from Central American countries.

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