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Blanck to argue asylum and disability case before U.S. Court of Appeals

July 30, 2009

Me'Shae Brooks-Rolling
(315) 443-8455

Peter Blanck, University Professor and chairman of the Burton Blatt Institute (BBI) at Syracuse University, will argue before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans on Aug. 3. The case, Kornennkova v. Holder, involves the extent to which this country's asylum laws protect persons with disabilities. Blanck is representing amici organizations that include national entities who advocate on behalf of people with intellectual disabilities that are concerned this decision may affect asylum applications by persons with intellectual disabilities.

The Kornennkovas, a married couple, are individuals with intellectual disabilities seeking asylum in the United States. To qualify for asylum, the Korennkovas must show they are in a protected class, Russians with intellectual disabilities, and have a well-founded fear of persecution. Blanck will argue that in Russia the Korennkovas experienced maltreatment-including assaults, unjust institutionalization and exclusion from public education and the workforce-that parallels the historical experience of Russians with intellectual disabilities and equates with persecution as defined in the asylum laws.

BBI at Syracuse University takes its name from Burton Blatt (1927-85), a pioneer in humanizing services for people with disabilities, staunch advocate of deinstitutionalization and national leader in special education. With its partners and multiple satellite offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Atlanta and Tel Aviv, BBI works nationally and internationally to advance the civic, economic and social participation of persons with disabilities in a global society. For more information, visit

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