The U.S. House of Representatives passed a sweeping immigration bill late Friday that will have a devastating impact on those who seek asylum in this country. The bill, which passed by a vote of 239 to 182, is called the “Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act” (H.R. 4437).
“In this season of hope and giving, the U.S. House of Representative has turned a cold shoulder on those who seek this country’s protection from persecution,” said Eleanor Acer, the director of Human Rights First’s refugee protection program. “This bill creates more barriers and bars to asylum, making it even more difficult for those who flee oppression to receive asylum in this country.”
The bill contains many provisions that would put those who flee from persecution and oppression at risk. Among these provisions are sections that would:
- Treat asylum seekers as criminals by making it a felony to be “out of status” after overstaying a visa.
- Limit access to federal courts and deprive many asylum seekers of review by the federal courts.
- Increase the detention of asylum seekers and expand expedited removal.
“This bill would turn asylum seekers into ‘felons,’ jail them for longer periods in immigration jails, and limit their access to federal courts that can prevent their mistaken deportation back into the hands of their persecutors,” Acer stated. The bill also contains a wide array of other restrictive immigration enforcement provisions.
Human Rights First has actively opposed H.R. 4437. When this debate shifts to the Senate after the New Year, we expect that these issues will be more carefully considered. Human Rights First will work to prevent similar legislation from advancing in the Senate.
Contact: Kirsten Powers
, (212) 845-5260