HIAS Celebrates Senator Patrick Leahy’s Retirement After 50+ Years of Fighting for Refugees


Statement of HIAS President and CEO Mark Hetfield:

“On the occasion of Senator Patrick Leahy’s retirement, HIAS warmly congratulates the veteran lawmaker for his distinguished public service career spanning more than 50 years. We thank the senator and his staff for their determined and sustained engagement on behalf of refugees, asylum seekers, and other forcibly displaced people.

The Refugee Protection Act, which aims to fulfill the nation’s obligations under the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol by enhancing protections for refugees and asylum seekers in the United States, is a reflection of Senator Leahy’s work on the issue of displacement.

After having supported the landmark Refugee Act of 1980, which created the architecture of the U.S. refugee resettlement and asylum programs, Senator Leahy has continued to be a strong advocate for refugee protection, through such measures as the Afghan Adjustment Act and other legislation to help those evacuated to after the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan; the renewal of the Lautenberg program to provide protection to members of persecuted religious minorities; the Uniting American Families Act to allow U.S. citizens and permanent residents to petition for their same-sex partners to come to the U.S. through the family immigration system; and his commitment as Chair of the Appropriations Committee to fighting for adequate funding for the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program and international humanitarian assistance.

Patrick Leahy’s life and career have embodied the imperative to welcome the stranger, which is at the heart of HIAS’ work on behalf of forcibly displaced people around the world.

As the nation’s most senior senator steps away from political life for a well-deserved retirement, we are proud to call Patrick Leahy a friend and ally in the fight to put global refugee protection and humanitarian assistance at the center of U.S. policy, for the advancement of welcome and protection, and in the pursuit of justice.”


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