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June 20, 2006

On World Refugee Day, US Leadership on Refugee Protection in Doubt

HRF Joins International Coalition to Improve Treatment of Refugees

June 20, 2006 – World Refugee Day is an opportunity to recognize the contributions of refugees and to underscore the importance of all governments around the world ensuring that the right of refugees to seek and enjoy asylum from persecution is protected. This year, Human Rights First notes with great concern the decline in U.S. leadership in the area of refugee protection, and calls on the United States to reverse this trend. In particular, HRF makes a number of specific recommendations that would help ensure that the United States lives up to its legal obligations in the treatment of those who flee to our shores in search of protection.

  • HRF urges the Department of Homeland Security to implement long over-due reforms to improve the treatment of refugees who are held in U.S. immigration jails. More than one year ago, the bi-partisan U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom recommended critical reforms to improve this country’s treatment of refugees who are detained in U.S. immigration jails. DHS should adopt the Commission’s recommendations to ensure that asylum seekers who present no risk to the U.S. do not languish unnecessarily in prisons.
  • HRF urges Congress to reform sweeping “anti-terrorism” provisions in the Patriot Act and REAL ID Act that bar from asylum those who have provided “material support” to groups that have used armed force. These overly broad provisions have resulted in victims of terrorism being excluded from protection, a result Congress surely did not intend. The failure to change this policy has harmed thousands of refugees, stranding many abroad in dangerous situations and denying refugees asylum here in the United States.

Human Rights First is dedicated to achieving these important goals on behalf of refugees. As part of that mission, HRF recently joined a coalition of faith-based and other refugee advocacy organizations to launch the “International Coalition on the Detention of Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Migrants.” HRF joined other Coalition members at a June 19 briefing in Washington, D.C. to announce the effort. For more information on the International Detention Coalition and how to join, please visit www.idcoalition.org