Immigration Bill Nears Finish Line—and Success
Posted by Mark Hetfield on Tue, May 21, 2013 at 15:23 pm
Good news from the Senate Judiciary Committee: Last night, the Senate Judiciary Committee finished its mark-up of the Refugee and Asylum provisions of S. 744—the Gang of 8's Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill.
In spite of an arsenal of amendments submitted by Senator Grassley (R-IA), which would have stricken most of the good refugee and asylum provisions from S. 744, the refugee and asylum provisions emerged from the mark-up largely unscathed. Most importantly for HIAS, Section 3403—the provision that we have been championing for years and would replace the annually expiring Lautenberg Amendment with a permanent version that can be applied to vulnerable refugee groups (e.g., Iranian religious minorities) at the discretion of the President—survived, as did the repeal of the arbitrary 12 month deadline for filing asylum applications.
This is very, very good news.
Like all DC victories, of course, no single agency can claim credit; it was the work of a coalition. However, the existence and survival of section 3403 in particular is attributable to the leadership of the HIAS DC office, with the support and hard work of many others in our refugee and inter-faith coalitions. HIAS' strategy of focusing on the refugee and asylum aspects of immigration reform is paying off.
Of course, this is just the first battle. But if the refugee and asylum provisions had died in the Judiciary Committee, they would not likely come back to life.
Next we are onto the Senate floor, then (hopefully) the conferencing of the Senate and House bills.