CGRS Urges Congress to Support the Refugee Protection Act of 2019

Thursday, November 21, 2019

The Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS) applauds the bicameral introduction of the Refugee Protection Act (RPA) of 2019, led by Senator Patrick Leahy and Representative Zoe Lofgren and cosponsored by more than two dozen members of Congress. The RPA would restore justice to the U.S. asylum and refugee resettlement systems and revive our country’s founding commitment to offer safe haven for those fleeing persecution. CGRS wholeheartedly endorses the RPA and urges all members of Congress to lend their support to this historic, carefully crafted bill.

Over the past three years, the Trump Administration has waged an all-out assault on refugees, introducing a slew of draconian policies that have decimated the overseas resettlement program, caused untold suffering at our southern border, and all but eliminated the ability of asylum seekers to receive fair hearings in the United States. Congress now has the opportunity – and the moral responsibility – to reverse the profound damage this Administration has wrought.

The RPA of 2019 sets forth a comprehensive blueprint for reopening our doors to refugees and bringing the United States back in line with its humanitarian commitments. Among many critical provisions, the RPA would:

  • Reverse former Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ devastating Matter of A-B- decision, which has severely undermined the asylum claims of those fleeing domestic violence and gang brutality;
  • Put an end to “asylum ban 2.0,” the Administration’s rule barring asylum for virtually all non-Mexicans arriving at the southern border;
  • Allow those denied asylum due to the Administration’s cruel Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) or asylum bans to reopen their cases;
  • Eliminate the current practice of “metering,” which restricts the number of asylum seekers permitted to request protection at border;
  • Prohibit any criminal prosecution of asylum seekers for merely crossing the border and ensure that asylum seekers are not subjected to needless, punitive detention; and
  • Guarantee access to counsel for immigrant and asylum-seeking children.

“This is a pivotal moment in our country’s history,” CGRS Gender Asylum Campaign Director Kate Jastram said today. “In the face of an urgent humanitarian crisis, the Trump Administration has chosen to turn its back on refugees. It is now up to Congress to take bold action and restore the United States’ tradition of extending protection for those who turn to our country for safety and justice.”