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HIAS Statement on Senate Judiciary Vote on Asylum Bill

SILVER SPRING, Md. -- Today the Senate Judiciary Committee passed Senator Lindsey Graham’s asylum bill, S. 1494, the Secure and Protect Act of 2019, out of committee. The bill will now move to the Senate floor for a vote. 

The Secure and Protect Act creates new barriers to asylum and will codify into law the administration's most harmful policies that punish asylum seekers at the U.S. border. HIAS submitted a written statement to the committee for the record.

The bill will have a significant impact on children, who will lose many of the legal protections they currently have under the Flores Settlement Agreement and the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, which are meant to protect them from prolonged detention in unsafe conditions and to make sure they are treated like children rather than adults as they pursue their asylum claims in court.

In response to the Senate Judiciary Committee vote, Melanie Nezer, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs at HIAS said, “We have in our laws protections for asylum seekers that are the result of 70 years of legislation, court precedent, international agreements, and administrative rulemaking. Our asylum laws are not perfect but they recognize the fundamental right to seek asylum.” 

“The Secure and Protect Act would take us back to a time when refugees and asylum seekers had minimal protections under the law. We need practical solutions that recognize our place as the world’s humanitarian leader, respect due process and fundamental fairness, and show compassion for people fleeing persecution and seeking safety in the United States. This  legislation does none of these things and we urge the Senate to reject it.”

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