Legislation Would Strengthen Refugee Protection, Reform Asylum Process

Communications Associate

July 14, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-California) introduced bicameral legislation in the Senate and House, “The Refugee Protection Act.”

The bills would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to reaffirm the United States’ historic commitment to protecting refugees who are fleeing persecution or torture. The legislation aims to streamline the refugee and asylum application process while focusing on specific groups of applicants, such as children and torture survivors.

The bills also focus on the need to reform the immigration detention system to ensure asylum seekers are treated humanely and have access to legal counsel and family visits, in addition to religious freedom.

The proposed legislation would require the attorney general to appoint lawyers for children and torture victims, allow certain family members of applicants to be admitted as derivative refugees and asylees, and increase protection for asylum seekers by eliminating the time limit for filing asylum applications. The bills speak to one of the biggest questions our country faces: how to humanely and efficiently handle people who are seeking refuge in the United States.

“Record numbers of people are fleeing their countries because of war, violence and persecution, especially women, children and families,” said Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum. “As a humanitarian leader among nations, the United States must do more in response to these circumstances.

“We need to respond to refugees and asylum seekers humanely. The Refugee Protection Act of 2016 puts forth sound proposals to improve our treatment of refugees and further our national reputation as a beacon of hope for those suffering from displacement and persecution.”