Testimony Details Concrete Steps Congress Should Take to Fix Flawed Asylum System

Washington, D.C. – In a statement submitted today to the House Judiciary Committee, Human Rights First’s Eleanor Acer reminded Congress that part of immigration reform must address a key U.S. interest: protection for of refugees and asylum seekers. Her statement urges Congress to live up to its commitment to those who seek protection by repairing the U.S. asylum system as part of its comprehensive immigration reform bill. Her submitted statement highlighted four main problems in the current asylum system and provided detailed recommendations to improve each.

Human Rights First notes that U.S. protection of asylum seekers has always been a core American value and commitment. The United States has a long history of providing refuge to victims of religious, political, ethnic, and other forms of persecution.

“U.S. leadership in the protection of refugees is also about how this country treats refugees who seek asylum here in the United States, and about whether this country’s policies and programs – including its approach to immigration law enforcement – live up to the same standards we call on the rest of the world to respect,” noted Acer in her statement.

According to Acer, Congress and the president can strengthen basic due process, fix the nation’s flawed approach to immigration detention, and realize the full potential of America’s commitment to refugees by: eliminating the unfair and wasteful asylum filing deadline from immigration law; reducing unnecessary immigration detention costs and implement lasting reforms; requiring and supporting a fair and efficient adjudication process; and protecting refugees from inappropriate exclusion and freeing up administrative resources.

In many instances, reform of the flawed system would not only honor America’s commitment to refugees, but would eliminate unnecessary spending and administrative resources. The U.S. detention system, for example, costs taxpayers $2 billion annually, despite the availability of less costly, less restrictive, and highly successful alternatives to detention programs.

“The United States has faltered on its commitment to those who seek protection from persecution,” noted Acer in her statement. “These deficiencies not only have domestic consequences, but they also lower the global standard.”

Fore more information, see Human Rights First’s recently released blueprints How to Repair the U.S. Asylum and Refugee Resettlement Systems and How to Repair the U.S. Immigration Detention System.


Published on February 5, 2013


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