Friday, 9 April 2010

US LGBT immigration reform will help asylum seekers


By Michael Jones

In March 2010, U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) introduced the Refugee Protection Act of 2010. The bill would change current U.S. immigration law to help immigrants in the U.S. who need and deserve asylum protection, putting in place several measures to protect the human rights of asylum seekers.

The Refugee Protection Act of 2010 has been endorsed by numerous human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, the Heartland Alliance, the International Rescue Committee, Human Rights First, and Immigration Equality. Indeed, Immigration Equality noted that LGBT asylum seekers will benefit substantially from passage of the Refugee Protection Act of 2010.

They cite three reasons why the Refugee Protection Act of 2010 will help LGBT asylum seekers in the long run. According to Immigration Equality, this piece of legislation would:

(1) Eliminate the requirement that asylum applicants file their claim within one year of their arrival in the United States (something that is often times unrealistic for LGBT asylum seekers, since many don't know that they can cite their sexual orientation in applying for asylum);

(2) Protect particularly vulnerable asylum seekers (including LGBT people) by ensuring they can pursue a claim even if their persecution was not "socially visible;" and

(3) Give asylum seekers an opportunity to explain any inconsistency that a judge finds in their testimony.

In short, these provisions would dramatically help LGBT immigrants caught up in the U.S. immigration system. It's in the best interest of LGBT rights, of immigrant rights, and of human rights to pass it. Urge your U.S. Senators today to pass the Refugee Protection Act of 2010.
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