News » CGRS Applauds Introduction of Refugee Protection Act of 2022

CGRS Applauds Introduction of Refugee Protection Act of 2022

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Dec 22, 2022

The Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS) welcomes the bicameral introduction of the Refugee Protection Act (RPA) of 2022, championed by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA-19). The bill sets forth a comprehensive vision to rebuild, strengthen, and improve the United States’ asylum and refugee resettlement systems. CGRS wholeheartedly endorses the RPA and urges all members of Congress to lend their support to this critical piece of legislation.

Among its many vital provisions, the RPA would:

  • Prohibit policies that block and expel asylum seekers at the border, as well as other harmful measures that undermine access to asylum and punish people for seeking protection;
  • Clarify the legal standards applicable to asylum claims to combat bias and inconsistency in decision-making and ensure people fleeing gender-based violence, gang brutality, and other human rights abuses have a fair chance to pursue their claims;
  • Ensure prompt access to work permits, allowing asylum seekers to support themselves and their families as they navigate the arduous legal process;
  • Expand protections for asylum-seeking children and ensure they are treated humanely upon reception at the U.S.-Mexico border; and
  • Provide asylum officers initial jurisdiction over all asylum applications, permitting applicants to present their claims in a non-adversarial process.

“Over the past six years, the United States has abdicated its legal and moral responsibilities to people seeking asylum,” CGRS Legal Director Blaine Bookey said today. “Under a constellation of inhumane policies, and against the backdrop of virulent anti-immigrant rhetoric, refugees have been dehumanized, punished, and returned to grave danger. At a time when our asylum system is hanging on by a thread, the RPA presents a clear path forward to rebuild and improve it, grounded in values of fairness and compassion. Congress now has the opportunity to bring us back into alignment with our humanitarian commitments and establish the United States as a global leader in refugee protection.”

The RPA would restore the promise of the Refugee Act of 1980, which was passed by a bipartisan Congress with the goal of aligning U.S. law with our international treaty obligations to protect refugees and never return them to persecution or torture. The bill reflects not only the intent of Congress back in 1980, but also the will of the American people today, who overwhelmingly support the right to seek refugee protection in the United States.

“As we applaud the introduction of the RPA today, our CGRS team expresses deep gratitude to Senator Leahy for his decades of service as a steadfast champion of refugees and immigrants,” said CGRS Director of Policy and Advocacy Kate Jastram. “We wish Senator Leahy the very best as he heads into retirement. His uncompromising vision and moral leadership will be greatly missed on Capitol Hill.”