Victims of persecution and torture should never be at themercy of a filing deadline to gain asylum. Most asylum seekers do not realize that they only have one year aftertheir arrival to apply for asylum. If they miss this deadline, they risk beingsent back to their countries and into the hands of their tormentors.
Many asylum seekers have survived unspeakable acts ofbrutality and arrive in the USafter undertaking long and dangerous trips. They are often unable to cope withwhat has happened to them, and may not even be aware that they are eligible for asylum. This arbitrary one-year deadline,enacted in 1996 in a misguided attempt to deter and prevent fraud in the asylumsystem, has resulted in the denial of tens of thousands of legitimate asylumclaims.
Last week, Representatives Pete Stark, Jim Moran, and ZoeLofgren took a step towards eliminating the deadline and returning the US to itsformer status as a defender of human rights and protector of the world’s vulnerable.They introduced H.R. 2981, the Restoring Protection to Victims of Persecution Act, which would eliminate theone-year deadline and ensure that every person who flees to the US in order toescape persecution and torture has a chance to apply for asylum, regardless ofwhen they submit their applications.
The Restoring Protection to Victims of Persecution Act is animportant piece of legislation that would fix a major flaw in our country’simmigration system. Members of Congress who are serious about immigrationreform should show their support for the most vulnerable immigrants bysupporting this bill.