Human Rights First Lauds Bill to Modernize American Refugee Protection Systems

WASHINGTON D.C. – Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) introduced the Refugee Protection Act of 2022, which would modernize and strengthen U.S. refugee protection and resettlement programs through updates to key provisions from the Refugee Protection Act of 2019. Human Rights First applauds this effort and the leadership of Senator Leahy and Representative Lofgren.

“Our refugee resettlement and asylum systems were decimated under the previous administration. They require urgent attention to restore asylum seekers’ access to critical protections and restore American leadership in realizing the human rights of refugees and asylum-seekers,” said Robyn Barnard, Director of Refugee Advocacy at Human Rights First. “The Refugee Protection Act of 2022 helps address these issues, and we deeply appreciate Senator Leahy and Representative Lofgren for their long-standing commitment to this legislation.”

Senator Leahy, senate lead and champion of the Refugee Protection Act, reintroduced the legislation as one of his final acts in the Senate. Human Rights First expresses deep appreciation for Senator Leahy’s decades-long commitment to fighting for and protecting the rights of refugees, and his tireless efforts to advance U.S. law on behalf of asylum seekers and refugees.

“We want to in particular express our heartfelt thanks and appreciation to the Senator for his leadership on refugee protection,” continued Barnard. “Our nation has been made better due to his courageous leadership. We look forward to continuing to work with Representative Lofgren and other members of Congress to advance the protections and innovations included in the Refugee Protection Act in the next Congress.”

The Refugee Protection Act will strengthen the U.S. resettlement program and restore critical asylum protections, while also rebuilding U.S. moral leadership for refugees and asylum seekers. The bill requires that each year’s U.S. Refugee Admissions Program goal not fall below 125,000 refugees. It prohibits policies that would undermine or limit access to the U.S. asylum system or lead to the denial of bona fide claims. It provides vital protections for those arriving at our southern border, including specific provisions for unaccompanied minors, and reduces the asylum backlog by making the processing of asylum applications more efficient and fair. The bill improves the processing of work permits for asylum seekers to ensure they are able to qualify for work authorization quickly and that their work permit applications are processed without delay.

Human Rights First was proud to work with Senator Leahy and Representative Lofgren to prepare this important legislation and to endorse it along with 100 community partners:

African Communities Together, African Human Rights Coalition, Americans for Immigrant Justice, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC, Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence, Assoc. for Advancement of Freedom of Religion or Belief in Vietnam, Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP), Bethany Christian Services, Cache Refugee and Immigrant Connection, Canopy Northwest Arkansas, Center for Gender & Refugee Studies, Center for Law and Social Policy, Center For Victims of Torture, Change Begins With ME (Indivisible), Church World Service, Communities United for Status & Protection (CUSP), Comunidades Sin Fronteras CSF-CT INC, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Doctors for Camp Closure, Dorothy Day Catholic Worker House, Washington DC, Edu-Futuro, El Calvario Immigrant Advocacy Center, Equality California, Ethiopian Community Development Council, Inc. (ECDC), Ethiopian Tewahedo Social Services, Exodus Refugee Immigration, Fellowship Southwest, First Congregational Church of San Jose, First Focus Campaign for Children, Franciscan Action Network, HIAS, Human Rights First, Immigrant Defenders Law Center, Immigration Equality Action Fund, Immigration Hub, Immigration Law and Justice Network, Indivisible CA: StateStrong, Inter-Faith Committee on Latin America, International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), IRIS – Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services, Islamic Relief USA, Japanese American Citizens League, Jesuit Refugee Service/USA, Jewish Family Service of San Diego, Journey’s End Refugee Services, Just Neighbors, Khmer Anti-deportation Advocacy Group (KhAAG) , Khmer Maine, Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), Latin America Working Group (LAWG), Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, Mennonite Central Committee U.S., Miami Valley Immigration Coalition, MPower Change Action Fund, National Council of Jewish Women, National Immigrant Justice Center, National Immigration Law Center, National Partnership for New Americans, Network Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, New Mainers Resource Center, Portland Adult Education, New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty, NOVA Friends, Refugees, One Journey, Oxfam America, Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, Puget Sound Welcome Back Center, Refugee Congress, Refugee Council USA, Refugee Solidarity Network, RefugeeOne, Refugees International, Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network, Silver State Equality, Sisters of Mercy of the Americas Justice Team, Social Eco Education (SEE), Tahirih Justice Center, The Advocates for Human Rights, The Welcoming Center, Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice, United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries, United Stateless, Upwardly Global, USC Law International Human Rights Clinic, Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, Voice for Refuge Action Fund, Washington Academy for International Medical Graduates, Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), We Are All America, Welcome Back Initiative, Welcoming America, Westchester Jewish Coalition for Immigration, Wind of the Spirit Immigrant Resource Center, Witness at the Border, Women’s Refugee Commission, World Education Services, and Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights.

A one-page summary of the bill can be found here.

A section-by-section summary of the bill here.

Representative Lofgren’s press statement here.


Published on December 22, 2022


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