In mid-March, the House Judiciary Committee approved H.R. 4731, legislation that would roll back protections for refugees seeking admission to the United States, as well as for refugees who have already been admitted to the country. As the House Leadership contemplates whether to bring this bill to the House floor for a vote, it is critical that they hear from everyone who supports refugee resettlement. We must persuade them to not bring this dangerous measure to a vote in the full House of Representatives.
Among its many detrimental provisions, H.R. 4731 would drastically reduce and cap refugee admissions and give Congress, rather than the President, the authority to set annual levels of refugee admissions; subject refugees to the possibility of continual surveillance after they have arrived; create new procedures that would significantly and potentially indefinitely delay resettlement for many refugees whose lives are in danger, including but not limited to Central Americans, Syrians and Iraqis; impose new barriers to the integration of persons admitted to the U.S. as refugees into the civic life of the country; and provide for the decentralization of refugee admissions and resettlement policy by subjecting the question of whether refugees, generally, and even specific refugees can be resettled in a state or community to the momentary vicissitudes of public opinion or the whims of a small but vocal mob.
USCCB strongly supports protection and resettlement of refugees, regardless of which of the five grounds established in U.S. and international law compel them to seek refugee status. However, H.R. 4731 seeks to elevate religious persecution above all other grounds and then seeks to favor particular religions over others for priority consideration.