House Hearing Shows Bipartisan Support for Integrity and Protection in Asylum System
Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First noted that today’s House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security hearing on asylum demonstrated bipartisan support for the integrity of the nation’s immigration system and its long-standing commitment to protect the persecuted. Human Rights First’s Eleanor Acer testified at the hearing.
“It was reassuring to hear such vocal support for our nation’s long commitment to the protection of refugees,” said Acer following the hearing. “As immigration reform continues to work its way through Congress, members should not forget this responsibility.”
The purpose of today’s hearing was to examine whether fraud in the system undermines its goals. Members on both sides of the aisle recognized the negative impact of fraud on bona fide refugees, and Acer emphasized the need for adequate government resources to effectively adjudicate credible fear and asylum claims.
Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) described the dire reality of individuals fleeing persecution vividly when he said, “You may be put to death for possession of a Bible. You may be denied access to education based on gender. You may be persecuted or killed if your religious beliefs do not match the religious beliefs of the majority. You will be victimized and the criminal justice system will be closed to you because you do not believe the right things or look the right way.”
Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte also committed to this fundamental American value, saying, “We grant asylum to tens of thousands of asylum seekers each year. We expect to continue this track record in protecting those who arrive here.”
As Ranking Member Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) noted, “This country can both strengthen the integrity of its immigration system and also provide asylum to refugees in a timely, fair and efficient manner.”
Despite shared viewpoints on key issues, several problematic proposals were raised during the hearing that could put refugees at risk of return, including changing the United States’ asylum standard.
Congressman John Conyers (D-MI) expressed concerns regarding access to legal counsel for asylum seekers. Acer echoed this sentiment after the hearing, noting that “individuals faced major hurdles trying to navigate the complex asylum system alone.”
Congresswoman Lofgren said it is time for the members to “put their heads together” to address issues raised in the hearing.
“Representative Lofgren has been a smart and persistent advocate for refugees and asylum seekers, and we appreciate her work, and that of the chairman, to strengthen the asylum system,” said Acer. “We look forward to working with the Subcommittee on solutions to these issues moving forward.”