What You Can Do on World Refugee Day

In the lead-up to World Refugee Day this Sunday, the UN refugee agency released new figures. There are 15 million refugees fleeing persecution worldwide. Over 40 million including internally displaced persons. Persecuted for who they are, what they believe, or what they look like.

Those who seek asylum in this country–seeking protection and refuge– often face more injustice. They are often detained in prisons or prison-like conditions, without basic due process protections, or denied asylum due to an arbitrary filing deadline.

Human Rights First and its allies are meeting with members of Congress next week to urge passage of the Refugee Protection Act of 2010. Help us in this effort by urging your senators to cosponsor the bill.

Every day at Human Rights First we see cases of people who have been tortured, brutalized, or persecuted. But these asylum seekers cannot always depend on the U.S. for safe refuge. The Refugee Protection Act of 2010 (S.3113)–would correct many of the worst abuses under our current system. But our champions in the Senate–Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Carl Levin (D-MI), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Daniel Akaka (D-HI), and Roland Burris (D-IL)–need our help securing more co-sponsors.

Here’s what the Refugee Protection Act would do:

  • Allow detained asylum seekers to receive prompt hearings by the immigration courts to assess the need for their detention so that these asylum seekers are not subject to prolonged and arbitrary detention;
  • Eliminate the one year asylum filing deadline that bars refugees with well-founded fears of persecution from asylum;
  • Clarify the “particular social group” basis and “nexus” requirements for asylum so that asylum requests from vulnerable individuals, including women fleeing gender-based persecution, are adjudicated fairly and consistently; and
  • Protect refugees from inappropriate exclusion by refining the definitions of “terrorist activity” and “terrorist organization” so that our immigration laws target actual terrorists, as opposed to hurting thousands of legitimate refugees who are not guilty of any wrongdoing and pose no threat to American security.

Thank you for taking action to support asylum-seekers in the United States.

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Published on June 17, 2010

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