Washington, DC – This week marks the 30th Anniversary of the Refugee Act of 1980. Since that law took effect, the United States has provided refuge for hundreds of thousands of persons who have been forced to flee because of fear they would be persecuted and tortured in their home country. In recent years, however, often in response to security concerns, new laws, legal interpretations, and administrative decisions have created obstacles keeping deserving individuals from gaining refuge in the U.S. On March 15, to improve our ability to protect vulnerable people, Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Carl Levin (D-MI) introduced the Refugee Protection Act of 2010. The following is a statement by Brittney Nystrom, Director of Policy and Legal Affairs of the National Immigration Forum, a non-partisan, non-profit pro-immigrant advocacy organization in Washington.
The National Immigration Forum strongly commends Senator Leahy and Senator Levin for introducing the Refugee Protection Act of 2010 and calls on the Senate to pass the bill soon. This legislation reinforces American values by providing hope and liberty to persons who now are excluded from protection here. It will help our country live up to the promise of legislation enacted 30 years ago this week. Since its enactment, the Refugee Act of 1980 has protected hundreds of thousands fleeing persecution and violence.
(The Refugee Protection Act will ensure that the most vulnerable amongst us have access to basic due process and justice through an opportunity to have their case heard by an immigration judge). It will result in fewer asylum seekers being jailed while their case is being considered. It will improve conditions of immigration detention for those who cannot be released. It will make common sense distinctions between refugees and supporters of terrorism. It will also allow persons who have been given refugee or asylee status to more quickly gain their permanent residence, the first step in a process to gain U.S. citizenship.
Over the last 30 years, the Refugee Act has allowed persons who might have been, at best, ostracized in their home country the opportunity to live up to a potential they otherwise would never have realized because they belonged to a persecuted race, religion, or national origin, social, or political group. For its generosity, this country has been greatly rewarded. Today, we celebrate the many outstanding individuals in the arts, sciences, business, and public service, as well as in our families, who first came to the U.S. as refugees.
Senators Leahy and Levin and co-sponsors Senators Durbin (D-IL) and Akaka (D-HI) deserve praise for removing barriers that prevent more such individuals from gaining refuge in the U.S. and for continuing our heritage of welcoming those from around the world who are yearning to be free.
immigrationforum.org via Jornal.us