AILA Applauds Bill to Help Refugees and Asylum Seekers

Wednesday, June 15, 2011
George Tzamaras / Jenny Werwa
202-507-7649 / 202-507-7628 /

WASHINGTON, DC - Today Senate and House champions of refugees introduced the "Refugee Protection Act of 2011." AILA applauds Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Carl Levin (D-MI), Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) for their efforts to ensure that the United States remains a land of hope and refuge for those fleeing persecution. More than thirty years ago, Congress passed the Refugee Act, a landmark law intended to codify the United States' obligations under the 1951 U.N. Refugee Convention. Over the years, the country has fallen short of fulfilling those obligations. AILA urges Congress to act swiftly and in a bipartisan manner to pass this bill which is so vital to refugees and asylees--and to our nation's identity.

"In the past six months millions of people around the world have bravely demanded freedom from tyranny and stood up to oppressive regimes even under threats of physical harm. America is a beacon of liberty and hope-and we must keep it shining for all who are oppressed worldwide. The Refugee Protection Act is crucial to ensuring that the United States does its part to protect survivors of persecution and torture." said AILA President David Leopold.

Among other fixes, the Refugee Protection Act would eliminate the requirement that asylum seekers file their claims within one year of arriving in the United States. The rule, which has only a few, narrow exceptions, has led to untold numbers of worthy refugees being denied asylum as well as administrative waste. "Time after time, immigration judges are forced to refuse asylum to deserving refugees who, against all odds, have reached our shores in search of protection. The arbitrary one-year rule not only denies them a critical safe-haven but it leads to administrative waste by forcing immigration judges to spend valuable time deciding whether or not a refugee can be excused for late-filing, rather than considering whether the person deserves protection. It is reprehensible that the United States is denying asylum based on an arbitrary deadline," concluded Leopold.


The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 11061539.