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What your calls on the Senate immigration reform bill achieved
May 24, 2013 by Roxanne Paisible
|Five-year-old Kushal Timsina's family, from Bhutan, spent years in a refugee camp in Nepal before resettling in New York with help from the IRC. Photo: Misha Cohen|
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a broad overhaul of United States immigration laws on Tuesday, sending the legislation to the full Senate, where debate is expected to last through June.
The 13-to-5 vote came after intense behind-the-scenes negotiations over a raft of amendments to the legislation, including many that the International Rescue Committee and other refugee organizations believed would have weakened protections for refugees and asylees.
A special thanks to all IRC supporters who called and e-mailed the Senate Judiciary Committee in recent days. Your calls and emails made an enormous difference to our ability to advocate against changes that would weaken or eliminate protections for those who face persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion.
Overall, the provisions in the legislation that provide much needed improvements for the protection of asylum seekers and refugees fared well. Four out of five amendments that would have eliminated refugee and asylum provisions from the bill were defeated, including those that would also have undermined efforts to improve access to life saving protection for religious minorities in Iran, stateless people, and other vulnerable groups.
Unfortunately, one amendment was adopted that would make it harder for refugees to return to their country of origin to visit a sick family member.
Despite the adoption of this amendment, we were strongly encouraged by the Judiciary Committee’s bipartisan vote to pass the immigration reform bill.
The full Senate will consider this important legislation in the coming weeks. Thanks again to everyone who has supported our advocacy efforts – we’ll keep you updated.
Refugees in the United States
Through a network of 22 offices in the United States, the International Rescue Committee provides assistance and the tools of self-reliance to refugees and asylees who are eager to participate fully in the economic and civic life of this country.
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