Protecting Refugees: an American Commitment and Tradition


This week marks the 30th anniversary of the Refugee Act of 1980, a landmark piece of legislation that changed the U.S. approach to refugee protection by creating the legal status of asylum and a formal process for resettling refugees from around the world. It affirmed the U.S. commitment to providing refuge to victims of religious, political and other forms of persecution.

Every day at Human Rights First we see up close the ways in which the Refugee Act makes a difference in the lives of individual refugees. There is no more concrete reflection of the Refugee Act's achievements than seeing refugees and their families find safe haven in the United States.

Watch our video highlighting what this Act meant - including how it helped one of our clients restart his life.

While the last 30 years has seen much progress in protecting refugees fleeing persecution, we also have seen in our work at Human Rights First where the United States has at times faltered in it its commitment - interdicting Haitians at sea without adequate protection safeguards, allowing political preferences to undermine the objectivity of asylum adjudications in the 1980s, and nearly shutting down the resettlement system in the wake of the September 11 attacks.

Particularly in the last fifteen years, a barrage of new laws, policies and legal interpretations have undermined the institution of asylum in the United States and led this country to deny asylum or other protection to victims of persecution. Detention has escalated dramatically, and refugees with well founded fears of persecution are barred from asylum due to a filing deadline that limits access to asylum.

We can do better. Our history as a country of refugees, our tradition as a safe haven and beacon of hope for the persecuted, and our obligations under the UN Refugee Convention and Protocol all tell us we must do better.

Yesterday, on the anniversary of the signing of the act, Human Rights First held a symposiumbringing together policymakers and experts in U.S. refugee and asylum law to discuss how we can overcome the current challenges in the U.S. refugee resettlement and asylum systems. It was an inspiring meeting that gave me hope for future reform.

This week we have seen movement: Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Carl Levin (D-MI), Richard Durbin (D-IL), and Daniel Akaka (D-HI) have introduced the Refugee Protection Act of 2010 (S. 3113), legislation designed to strengthen America's commitment to protecting refugees by repairing many of the most severe problems in the U.S. refugee and asylum systems. Human Rights First commends these Senators for their leadership. You can demonstrate your support for their efforts here.

Millions of Americans are here today because at some point they or their parents - or grandparents - had to flee from oppression or persecution and were either granted asylum or resettled as refugees here in the United States. After reflecting on the last 30 years since this law was passed, we have a lot to be proud of, but there is still a lot of work to be done. Together, we can ensure that our nation lives up to the promise of the Refugee Act.


Agreement reached for automakers, for what its worth 0601087&sid=a6szHA.vC6Uk&refer=h ome

According to aides to Carl Levin, an agreement was reached for the struggling Big Three. No details were given, but its a start for something that could have easily died.

Sorry this is so short, This is the only information available, I will post more if specifics are released.

There's more...

Credentials Committee Restores Voting Rights Of Florida & Michigan

After nearly a year of being punished by the National Democratic Party for breaking the delegate selection rules, the states of Florida and Michigan were unanimously brought back into the fold as the two states had their voting rights fully restored by the convention Credentials Committee.

Georgia's four representatives on the committee --State Sen. David Adelman, Kirk T. Dornbush, Jr., Karol V. Mason and Patty A. Payne-- voted for seating the delegations of Florida and Michigan.  After the vote, state Sen. Adelman said he was "100% satisfied" with the outcome of the Credentials Committee meeting today.

U.S Senator Carl Levin and DNC Member Debbie Dingell, both from Michigan, were present for the meeting and declared victory for their state once the vote was taken.

"They reached a decision we always knew they would make," Sen. Levin said.  "We were always very, very determined to try to change this system."

"This is ultimately what we want.  This is ultimately a victory, not only to get our delegates seated, it's a victory to challenge a system that makes utterly no sense," Levin continued.

Michigan DNC Member Debbie Dingell echoed Levin's remarks saying the vote succeeded in challenging the system that allows Iowa and New Hampshire to have first-in-the-nation status.

"Sometimes you take risks for change," Dingell said of the DNC's earlier decision to strip Michigan of all its national convention delegates.

"We're fighting for a process that gives every state the opportunity to have that chance to see the presidential candidates and have their issues considered," Dingell continued.

Dingell also said she believed the caucus system is flawed and felt the time to discuss any changes would be immediately after the presidential election.

The full Democratic National Convention will vote on the credentials committee report tomorrow afternoon as their first order of business.

There's more...

FISA is not all about Obama

I just read Reaper0bot's diary on the reason Barack Obama is likely supporting the current compromise FISA bill, and there was one comment that jumped out at me: someone said "okay, we'll lose the battle but win the war".  Why?

There's more...

$100 Billion Tax Fraud: Why isn't this news?

This is not a candidate diary, it's something more important that that.

Regardless of who is elected in 2008, the continuing evasion of personal responsibility by wealthy Americans will mean that working Americans are forced to pick up the bill.  It's dine and and dash for the ruling class. To the money shot.

"Liechtenstein's LGT Bank, which is owned by the Royal family, has apparently harbored numerous secret accounts which hid the taxable assets of thousands of citizens from around the world. It is my understanding that many U.S. citizens have also hidden assets at this bank, which is a real injustice to the millions of working families in this country who honestly pay their taxes every year.....

Offshore tax evasion produces an estimated $100 billion in unpaid taxes each year.

There's more...


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