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February 08, 2013

162 Sign Immigration Reform Letter Urging Administration, Congress to Protect Those Fleeing Persecution

Washington, DC – Today Human Rights First released a sign-on letter with 162 signatories including the nation’s leading nonprofit organizations to President Obama and Congress demonstrating broad support for U.S. leaders to ensure that immigration reform legislation includes measures to restore America’s commitment to providing refuge to those who seek protection from persecution. The letter, sent to the Obama Administration and Members of Congress just days before President Obama’s State of the Union address and the Senate’s hearing on immigration, includes key recommendations for reforms to the U.S. asylum system. Among the  signatories Human Rights First gathered including national refugee protection organizations, faith based groups, state and local organizations, and legal experts on the U.S. asylum system for today’s letter are the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services, the National Immigrant Justice Center and the Human Rights Initiative of North Texas.

“We believe that immigration reform legislation must include key changes to the U.S. asylum system to better ensure that refugees who seek the protection of the United States are afforded meaningful access to a fair, effective, and timely asylum and adjudication process,” noted today’s letter. The letter’s top ask is for elimination of the wasteful and unfair asylum filing deadline in any immigration reform legislation, a provision included in the President’s immigration reform proposal released in January. The deadline is “barring refugees with well-founded fears of persecution from asylum and diverting overstretched adjudication resources,” the letter states.

In their letter to the administration and Congress, Human Rights First and its fellow signatories urged government leaders to work together to support the inclusion of the following changes in immigration reform legislation:

  • Eliminate the wasteful and unfair asylum filing deadline.
  • Require and support a fair and efficient adjudication process.
  • Protect refugees from inappropriate exclusion and free up administrative resources.
  • Implement lasting immigration detention reforms to protect detained individuals, including asylum seekers, and reduce unnecessary costs.
  • Ensure adequate substantive and procedural safeguards for all child asylum seekers.
  • Ensure that gender-based claims are properly recognized.
  • Ensure that asylum-seekers interdicted in international or U.S. waters are not returned to persecution.

For more information about today’s letter, contact Brenda Bowser Soder at bowsersoderb@humanrightsfirst.org or 202-370-3323.