HIAS supporting new refugee legislation

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society is backing new legislation aimed at protecting refugees and asylum seekers.

The Refugee Protection Act was introduced Monday by U.S. Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Carl Levin (D-Mich.) on the 30th anniversary of the Refugee Act of 1980.

Though the original act provided protection for refugees and asylum seekers, provisions have eroded over the years. Asylum seekers, even after proving credible fear of persecution in their home countries, have been detained. Also, restrictions meant to prevent terrorists from entering the United States have barred legitimate, non-threatening asylum seekers from gaining entry.

HIAS, the international migration agency of the American Jewish community, said the new measure proposes “thoughtful and effective solutions to these problems and will ensure that fairness is restored to the asylum system.”

“It is also important to remember that refugee protection does not end on the day asylum or refugee status is approved," said Gideon Aronoff, the president and CEO of HIAS. "The Refugee Protection Act would go a long way towards ensuring that refugee families are reunited quickly, and that refugees and asylees are able to integrate quickly into U.S. society.”

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