HIAS is applauding the extension of the "Lautenberg Amendment." Part of the ominbus spending bill signed into law Wednesday by the president, the provision facilitates the processing of refugee applications by the U.S. for historically persecuted groups from the former Soviet Union, including Jews. Here’s HIAS’s full statement:
HIAS, the international migration agency of the American Jewish community, applauds the extension of the “Lautenberg Amendment,” the provision of law that facilitates the processing of refugee applications for Jews, Evangelicals, Christians and several other categories of individuals from the Former Soviet Union. The extension – included in the omnibus spending bill – also provides a way out for Jews, Baha’i and other religious minorities seeking to flee Iran.
The amendment recognizes the longstanding history of persecution faced by these groups, and clarifies the refugee adjudication standard to be applied to group members. It was initially enacted in 1989 and has been renewed annually since that date. The latest extension is valid through the end of fiscal year 2009 (September 30, 2009).
According to Gideon Aronoff, President & CEO of HIAS, “The continuation of the Lautenberg Amendment is important because the situation in the republics of the former Soviet Union is more volatile than most of us realize, and few would argue how dangerous Iran is. This provision of the law recognizes that certain religious minorities living in these two regions are living in endangered circumstances and need an avenue out.
“HIAS thanks Congress and Senator Lautenberg, in particular, for their commitment to ensuring that members of historically persecuted groups continue to be resettled to freedom in the United States.”
As part of its work, HIAS tracks, monitors, and documents targeted persecution against religious minorities in the former Soviet Union and in Iran. Those individuals who achieve U.S. refugee status are part of HIAS’ continuing caseload from these regions.