I’m writing to you today with a strong plea to speak out for refugees and other vulnerable migrants. With hearings scheduled for this week, it’s critical that we all work together to oppose attempts to amend the Senate immigration reform bill, S.744, in ways that would undermine America’s global leadership in protecting refugees.
S. 744 includes many important reforms that would improve the way the United States protects and welcomes refugees, asylum seekers, and stateless people. It’s alarming that Senator Grassley (R-IA)’s proposed amendments 25, 26, and 27 would gut improvements to the asylum process, hinder the ability of the United States to protect vulnerable refugees overseas, and block a pathway to legal status for stateless individuals.
If these and other efforts to gut S.744’s provisions to help refugees succeed, the United States will miss a major opportunity to strengthen the fabric of our communities and economy and offer lasting solutions. Amendments like Sen. Grassley’s would cripple S.744’s ability to deliver what the majority of Americans are calling for: immigration reform that upholds our national traditions of keeping families together and providing refuge to those fleeing persecution and torture.
On May 9, the Senate Judiciary Committee began considering amendments to S.744 (The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act). Hearings to “mark up” S.744 are expected to last through May 24. LIRS’s in-depth analysis looks at each amendment below affecting vulnerable migrants.
LIRS applauds these amendments expanding protections for unaccompanied children and asylum seekers:
- Coons 8: Grants work authorization to asylum applicants six months after they file an application. This allows asylum seekers, who may wait years for a grant of asylum, to work while their applications are pending.
- Hirono 22: Protects children by requiring child welfare professionals to screen and interview children apprehended by immigration agents at the border.
LIRS opposes the following amendments because they would eliminate improvements included in S.744:
- Grassley 27: This amendment would perpetuate current unnecessary and costly barriers to protection. It undoes improvements in S. 744 that assist bona fide asylum seekers and fix costly inefficiencies in the asylum process.
- Grassley 25: Eliminates a permanent process created in S. 744 for the president to designate certain vulnerable migrants for refugee resettlement in the United States.
- Grassley 26: Eliminates a provision in S. 744 that provides a pathway to legal status for stateless individuals in the United States who have no nationality or citizenship in any country and are currently in legal limbo through no fault of their own
- Grassley 52: Delays certain asylum changes in S. 744 until an Inspector General report is submitted to Congress detailing “intelligence and immigration failures” of the Boston Marathon terrorist attacks. None of S. 744’s provisions undermine, limit, or circumvent security screenings or checks currently in place for refugees and asylees.
- Graham 1: Terminates asylee/refugee status for migrants who return to the country of persecution.
Also, please consider raising your voice to defend another target of S.744’s opponents: vulnerable migrants who are caught in detention.