Today’s Washington Post features a story on Iraqi refugees and the efforts being made by Eric Schwartz, the Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration, to resettle Iraqi refugees in the United States, including those who worked for the U.S. government or military in Iraq.
Human Rights First has long pressed for improvements in Iraqi refugee resettlement, and we have appreciated Assistant Secretary Schwartz’s efforts on behalf of refugees from all parts of the world. He joined us this spring, along with UN Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres and political leaders from both sides of the aisle, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Refugee Act of 1980 at a symposium at Georgetown Law School.
We continue to urge policymakers to re-affirm the U.S. commitment to refugee protection embodied in the original 1980 legislation. The Obama Administration and Congress should implement immediate changes that would prevent the unnecessary and prolonged detention of asylum seekers by providing prompt court review of detention, end the practice of barring refugees with a well-founded fear of persecution from asylum on the basis of an arbitrary asylum filing deadline, and ensure the protection of refugees at risk of imminent harm by creating a fast-track resettlement process. These reforms and others are laid out in a comprehensive set of recommendations released by Human Rights First in March.
Senators Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT) and Carl Levin (D-MI) have introduced a new Refugee Protection Act of 2010, which would implement many of our key recommendations.
Watch our video explaining the importance of the original Act and what needs to be done to live up to its promise: