Boehner Remarks Signal Willingness to Move Forward on Immigration Reform
Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First applauds recent statements from Speaker of the House John Boehner indicating that he wants to proceed with an immigration reform bill in 2014. The organization notes that there is bipartisan support in Congress for our nation’s commitment to protect refugees who face political, religious, and other forms of persecution. Improvements to the asylum system should be a key imperative for immigration reform, and Human Rights First urges Congress to advance these principles as it considers its package.
“Our nation’s historic commitment to protect refugees should not be mired down in partisan politics,” said Human Rights First’s Robyn Lieberman. “Our system requires some improvements to make sure that those facing persecution because of their religious beliefs, political opinions, or other grounds can access our asylum system. Congress should increase resources for immigration courts and for the asylum office.” Lieberman continued, “Speaker Boehner’s comments show that he is willing to work on some of the tough issues in the immigration reform debate, and we applaud his initiative to negotiate this complex bill. We also want to remind him that if he is looking for bipartisan support for the bill, both the Republican and Democratic parties have stood up for refugees historically.” The bipartisan Senate immigration reform bill, S. 744 included improvements to our nation’s asylum and refugee systems.
Thirty-four years ago, Ronald Reagan signed into law the Refugee Act of 1980, which passed Congress with strong bipartisan support. The 2012 Republican National Platform reaffirmed that commitment, stating, “We affirm our country’s historic tradition of welcoming refugees from troubled lands. In some cases, they are people who stood with us during dangerous times, and they have first call on our hospitality.”
This year, ten of the nation’s most prominent Republican leaders released a statement urging the party to recommit to upholding the United States’ position as an international leader in refugee protection. Signatories of the statement included former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, former Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, and President of Americans for Tax Reform Grover Norquist. The statement challenged American leaders to uphold the nation’s promise to oppressed people who yearn to live in freedom.
For more information or to speak with Lieberman, contact Corinne Duffy at DuffyC@humanrightsfirst.org or 202-370-3319.