Congress and the Refugee Crisis: Five Bills to Watch

By Liza Lieberman - Director, Advocacy and Outreach

This week all eyes are on Pope Francis, who will address both chambers of Congress on Thursday. And once he leaves town, legislators will (hopefully) turn their focus to passing an appropriations bill to keep the government afloat after the current fiscal year ends on September 30. With all the papal excitement, looming budget deadline, and preemptive chaos of election year politics, it's often easy to forget what members of congress are supposed to do in Washington...write, debate, and enact legislation!

Here are the top five bills that we are watching and hoping/fearing will move forward in the legislative process. Let’s start with the good:

  1. The Domestic Refugee Resettlement Reform and Modernization Act (H.R. 2839 / S. 1615) was introduced this summer in both the House and Senate. HIAS supports this legislation, which aims to reevaluate the domestic side of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program and make sure that refugees are getting the best assistance possible including mental and physical medical services, case management, housing, and employment support.
  2. The Strengthening Refugee Resettlement Act (H.R. 2798) was introduced in June. HIAS supports this legislation, which would streamline refugee processing in several ways including establishing overseas programs to help refugees with English before they travel to the U.S. It would improve family reunification for refugees and asylum seekers, and it wou

(Is your representative a co-sponsor of H.R. 2798? Click here to find out if they have offered their support to this important bill.)


Now for the bad and the ugly. The following three bills were introduced earlier this year and have all been approved by the House Judiciary Committee.

  1. The Protection of Children Act (H.R. 1149).

  2. The Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act (H.R. 1153).  

  3. The Michael Davis Jr. In Honor of State and Local Law Enforcement Act (H.R. 1148).

HIAS strongly opposes these three bills, each of which would make it more difficult to seek asylum in the United States. These bills they would undermine laws designed to protect migrants—including children—who were forced to flee their homes and could face great risks if returned back to their countries of origin.

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