As Senate Debates Immigration Reform, Refugees May Become Unspoken Victims – Again
NEW YORK – The Senate Judiciary Committee will take up a controversial immigration reform bill today. Human Rights First is concerned that some provisions in the bill, advanced by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, would have a devastating effect on those who have fled from persecution and sought refuge in this country.
“These harmful provisions would criminalize many legitimate asylum seekers, bar some from receiving asylum, and prevent others from getting mistaken asylum denials corrected by U.S. federal courts,” said Eleanor Acer, the director of Human Rights First’s refugee protection program. “These provisions are entirely inconsistent with this country’s commitment to protect those who flee persecution, and if adopted would put the U.S. in violation of its commitments under the Refugee Convention and its protocol.”
The provisions that impact refugees are included in a 300-page legislative proposal, drafted by Senator Specter, which is entitled the “Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006” (S __). The bill is the starting point for Senate discussions on immigration reform. It contains some of the same extreme provisions that were included in the “Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act” (H.R. 4437) which passed the House of Representatives in December 2005.
“The asylum process has already become so difficult for many refugees.” Acer noted. “A barrage of new laws, policies and practices are already leading many deserving refugees to be denied this country’s protection. It is time for the Senate to take a stand and make sure that Congress does not, yet again, rush through a law that prevents this country from living up to its commitment to provide refuge to those who flee from persecution and repression.”