Gang of Eight Immigration Bill Aims to Help Refugees by Making System More Efficient

Washington, D.C. – The bipartisan Senate immigration bill introduced earlier today could help thousands of refugees, according to Human Rights First. The bill includes key provisions to eliminate the wasteful and unfair filing deadline that bars refugees with well-founded fears of persecution from asylum. The bill also recognizes that immigration reform should include improvements to the broken and expensive immigration detention system.

“The Gang of Eight’s bill includes some key fixes to make our asylum system more efficient in the way it helps people fleeing political, religious and other persecution receive needed protection in the United States,” said Human Rights First’s Eleanor Acer. “For the past 14 years, many refugees have been denied asylum in this country due to technical barriers that waste limited government resources. We welcome the Gang of Eight’s bipartisan approach to immigration reform and their reaffirmation of America’s commitment to the protection of persecuted refugees. Not only will these common sense measures improve the efficiency of the immigration system, but they are also consistent with American values, commitment to fairness, and human rights.”

Last week, Human Rights First hosted a day-long conference on immigration detention, convening former corrections officials and prosecutors, representatives of faith groups, attorneys, human rights advocates, and conservative leaders including Grover Norquist and Dr. Richard Land, to identify common-sense and rights-respecting reforms – some of which can only be accomplished via legislation.

The proposed bipartisan legislation also includes measures that would increase staffing for immigration courts to reduce delays, facilitate counsel for certain vulnerable populations and mandate availability of the Legal Orientation Program, lauded for its efficiency and effectiveness.

In its review of the 844 page bill, S. 744 titled the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013,” Human Rights First will be looking to ensure it does not include provisions that might undermine the ability of refugees to receive U.S. protection or adversely impact the human rights of immigrants.  As the Senate Judiciary Committee prepares for mark-up of the bill, the organization plans to weigh in on any areas of the bill where amendments may be needed.

“Introduction of today’s Gang of Eight bill is the first step. We hope that Congressional leaders demonstrate their commitment to refugee protection by supporting needed reforms and preventing any harmful amendments,” concluded Acer.


Published on April 17, 2013


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