The section of S 744 named for Sen. Lautenberg would also repeal barriers to asylum that have closed the door to many individuals who should be eligible for asylum in the U.S. The bill includes a repeal of the one-year filing deadline for asylum applications, which since 1996 has prevented many individuals with legitimate claims of persecution from being granted asylum, and would eliminate barriers to refugees seeking to join family members already living legally in the U.S. The section contains provisions that would make the asylum process more efficient, saving scarce resources to approve or deny cases without unnecessary delays
The late Sen. Lautenberg earned the gratitude of hundreds of thousands of refugees who have been able to start new lives in safety and freedom because of the his unwavering commitment to religious freedom and refugee protection. Congress must extend the Lautenberg Amendment and enact the refugee and asylum provisions in S 744 to uphold this lifesaving work.
Melanie Nezer is vice president for policy and advocacy at HIAS, a global Jewish organization that protects refugees.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.