New York, NY, August 1, 2019 — Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted along party lines to advance Chairman Lindsey Graham’s Secure and Protect Act of 2019. The bill will now move to the Senate floor for consideration and every Senator must decide whether he or she will stand publicly with refugees or stand on the wrong side of history. The IRC is opposed to this bill. It is an attack on families seeking safety from violence and persecution, contrary to its title. Graham’s bill makes sweeping changes to laws designed to protect vulnerable people and it does nothing to address the issues forcing them to flee their homes in the first place.
“This bill would roll back vital protections that have been put into place specifically to prevent already vulnerable people from being subject to further harm. It violates America’s legacy as a beacon of safety and hope for persecuted people, and undermines the rights of people seeking safety for themselves and their families,” said Nazanin Ash, Vice President, Global Policy and Advocacy at the International Rescue Committee. “The Senate must ensure U.S. asylum law is both just and humane. They can start by rejecting this harmful bill.”
Since coming to office, the Trump administration has used a series of Executive actions to pursue an anti-asylum and anti-refugee agenda that has seen children separated from their families and detained for prolonged periods of time in unfit conditions. These illegal and inhumane policies have been routinely challenged in the courts and condemned by Americans of all political stripes. Unfortunately, Senator Graham has decided to double down on the Trump approach and is now attempting to codify these harmful policies which put children in harm’s way and deny protection for vulnerable families .
Among other harmful effects, Senator Graham’s bill would:
- Ban people from specific countries from applying for asylum, regardless of the circumstances they are fleeing;
- Harm children by eliminating protections enshrined in the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) and the Flores Settlement Agreement;
- Pit asylum seekers against refugees by deducting the number of people who receive asylum from certain countries from the annual refugee resettlement goal
Instead of eviscerating crucial protections for vulnerable people and eliminating asylum access for thousands, the Senate should focus on efforts to address the violence and persecution forcing people to flee in search of safety.
The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and 26 offices across the U.S. helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future, and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.