This chapter examines the relationship between increasing government restrictiveness towards asylum seekers and the growing entanglement of states in human rights law that restrains their activities. It discusses the roots of recent restrictive policies by governments over the last 15 years in the dynamics of electoral politics, and particularly in hostile public attitudes towards asylum seekers. The chapter argues that the consequences of restrictive pressures emanating from the political realm have been restrained in important ways by legal developments that begin to acknowledge asylum seekers as rights-bearing subjects and vest them with important new legal protections. It also argues that this contradiction between restrictive politics and inclusive legal developments is best understood as reflecting a tension in the idea of the constitutional democratic state. The chapter addresses the implications of this account of the evolution of asylum for the future of the values associated with the Refugees Convention 50 years after its birth.