6-20-2012By Eleanor Acer
Director, Refugee Protection Program
A persecuted Congolese woman seeks asylum in the United States. But she’s denied. Why? Because a rebel group kidnapped her when she was a child and forced her to be a soldier.
The United States government labeled her a terrorist because under overly broad provisions of U.S. immigration law, victims of terrorism can be labeled as terrorists.
Thousands of refugees seeking asylum—or who were granted U.S. protection years ago and are now applying for permanent residence or family reunification—have been wrongly labeled as “terrorists.” Their lives are on hold as they wait for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to grant them legal status in the country.
For World Refugee Day today, send a message to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano to sign exemptions for refugees mislabeled as “terrorists” – exemptions that bipartisan legislation in 2007 authorized her to sign.
In 2005, DHS acknowledged that its application of these overbroad provisions harms refugees who need protection, and it has since implemented a few exemptions for specific categories of refugees mislabeled as “terrorists.” But more than 4,500 applications are still stuck in red tape.
Help us alleviate the needless suffering of these genuine refugees and their families. Tell Secretary Napolitano to sign the exemptions on her desk.