Change Policies Punishing Refugees Fleeing Persecution

From Human Rights First:

Thousands of vulnerable refugees have been prevented from receiving asylum or resettlement in the United States under sweeping immigration law definitions that end up punishing the victims of persecution.

These refugees include:

– women who were raped and enslaved by armed militias in Liberia;
– victims of extortion forced to pay violent militants in Colombia to protect their lives and their children;
– and Cubans who supported a group that took up arms against fidel castro in the 1960s.

Many of these refugees are actually the victims of violence and extortion in places like Colombia, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Others have provided support to pro-democracy groups with armed wings that have resisted repressive regimes in places like Burma and Cuba, while some supported groups that fought alongside U.S. forces during the war in Vietnam. The U.S. government does not consider these groups to be “terrorist organizations” in any other context, but because these groups have used arms, they are categorized as “terrorist organizations” under these immigration law provisions.

The material support bar has crippled the U.S. resettlement program, a critical life-line through which local communities and church groups across the country assist in welcoming refugees to safety in this country. Thousands of refugees have been prevented from resettling in the United States because of these overly broad immigration definitions.

Be a voice for the persecuted. Please take a moment to write to President Bush.

Click here for the Human Rights First Report and the letter to President Bush.