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.”
The Lautenberg Amendment was extended with passage of the omnibus spending bill which President Obama signed into law on January 17th, 2014. With the reauthorization, a door to freedom for religious minorities in Iran and the former Soviet Union has been reopened. This crucial legislation will now be extended through September 30, 2014 and, as in previous years, is retroactive to the beginning of the current fiscal year.
- HIAS backgrounder on the Lautenberg Amendment - updated February 2014
- Dear Colleague letter to House Appropriators urging reauthorization of the Lautenberg Amendment in the next government spending bill - December 20, 2013
- NGO 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
- Dear Colleague letter to Senate Appropriators, urging inclusion of the Lautenberg Amendment in FY 2013 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations bill - March 30, 2012