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Monday, 21 June 2010

Americans: Please support the Refugee Protection Act

Source: Human Rights First

15 million.

That's the new figure, just released from the UN refugee agency, of refugees fleeing persecution worldwide. Persecuted for who they are, what they believe, or what they look like.

And what's worse, rather than protection and refuge, those who seek asylum in this country often face more injustice-detained in prisons or prison-like conditions, without basic due process protections, or denied asylum due to an arbitrary filing deadline. [LGBT Asylum News note: see Why the Refugee Protection Act of 2010 Is Good for LGBT Asylum Seekers]

Human Rights First and its allies are meeting with members of Congress next week and we need your help.

Every day at Human Rights First we see cases of people who have been tortured, brutalized, or persecuted. But these asylum seekers cannot always depend on the U.S. for safe refuge.

The Refugee Protection Act of 2010 (S.3113)-would correct many of the worst abuses under our current system. But our champions in the Senate-Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Carl Levin (D-MI), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Daniel Akaka (D-HI), and Roland Burris (D-IL)-need our help securing more co-sponsors.

Contact your senators today. Tell them to stand up for refugees, and ask them to support this much-needed bill that would help those fleeing persecution and seeking safe haven in the United States.

Here's what The Refugee Protection Act would do:
  • Allow detained asylum seekers to receive prompt hearings by the immigration courts to assess the need for their detention so that these asylum seekers are not subject to prolonged and arbitrary detention;
  • Eliminate the one year asylum filing deadline that bars refugees with well-founded fears of persecution from asylum;
  • Clarify the "particular social group" basis and "nexus" requirements for asylum so that asylum requests from vulnerable individuals, including women fleeing gender-based persecution, are adjudicated fairly and consistently; and
  • Protect refugees from inappropriate exclusion by refining the definitions of "terrorist activity" and "terrorist organization" so that our immigration laws target actual terrorists, as opposed to hurting thousands of legitimate refugees who are not guilty of any wrongdoing and pose no threat to American security.
Thank you for taking action to support asylum-seekers in the United States.
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