Nadler: Republicans Turn Their Backs on Refugees, Faith-Based Groups

Feb 9, 2005

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) today blasted House Republicans for defeating his amendment to H.R. 418, the REAL ID Act, immigration legislation sponsored by Congressman James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-WI).  Congressman Nadler’s amendment, supported by numerous faith-based aid groups, would have stripped the Sensenbrenner bill of its dangerous modifications to America’s asylum law.

“This legislation would gut asylum law in this country, placing insurmountable obstacles in the way of refugees and rescinding the generosity that has made America the world’s leading voice of religious freedom for centuries,” Congressman Nadler said today.  “I’m disappointed that my Republican colleagues in the House did not see fit to shield asylum-seekers from the reckless, paranoid, and overly stringent provisions of this bill.”

The asylum provisions H.R. 418 would place a nearly impossible burden of proof on those seeking asylum in this country.  The law would require a refugee to prove that a “central” motivation for their persecution was bias against the refugee’s race, religion, social affiliation, political opinion, or nationality, and his or her claim could be dismissed based on immaterial consistencies in statements given to immigration officers.

“It’s an outrage that under this bill a woman routinely raped and tormented in her home country could be turned back into the hands of her persecutors for no more than forgetting a date or name in her story, or for failing to convince officials, in her traumatized state, that an approved criterion was a ‘central’ motive to her rapist,” Nadler added.

Nadler also praised Republican Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) for coming to the House floor to support the amendment.

In addition to secular groups such as Amnesty International, many faith-based groups joined Nadler in opposing the Sensenbrenner asylum provisions, including Episcopal Migration Ministries, World Relief (a program of the National Association of Evangelicals), the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Charities, B’nai B’rith International, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, and Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service.