Enacted as part of the 1990 Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill, the Lautenberg Amendment established a presumption of refugee eligibility for certain categories of people from the former Soviet Union (FSU) and Southeast Asia. Today, the main purpose of the Lautenberg Amendment is to facilitate the resettlement of Jews, Christians, Baha’is, and other religious minorities seeking to flee Iran, who were added to the Amendment in 2004, while it continues to cover religious minorities from the FSU. The Lautenberg Amendment does not provide access to U.S. refugee resettlement. Rather it eases the burden of proof for the applicant after the State Department has invited a particular group to apply for refugee status for reasons of “humanitarian concern.”
After the Lautenberg Amendment expired on June 1, 2011, an extension through September 30, 2012 was included in the FY 2012 Consolidated Appropriations Act, which President Obama signed on December 23, 2011. With the reauthorization, a door to freedom for religious minorities in Iran and the former Soviet Union has been reopened. The Lautenberg Amendment was recently extended for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2013 and it will expire again on September 30, 2013.
- HIAS backgrounder on the Lautenberg Amendment
- Sign-on letter to Senate Appropriators and leadership urging an extension of the Lautenberg Amendment in the Continuing Resolution to fund the government for FY 14 - September 18, 2013
- Sign-on letter to Senate Appropriators, urging inclusion of the Lautenberg Amendment in FY 2013 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations bill - March 30, 2012
- NGO Sign-on letter to House Judiciary Committee leadership - June 8, 2011