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Reps Introduce Bill to Eliminate One-Year Filing Deadline for Asylum

Mike Corradini, JD on September 28, 2011

Victims of persecution and torture should never be at the mercy of a filing deadline to gain asylum. Most asylum seekers do not realize that they only have one year after their arrival to apply for asylum. If they miss this deadline, they risk being sent back to their countries and into the hands of their tormentors.

Many asylum seekers have survived unspeakable acts of brutality and arrive in the US after undertaking long and dangerous trips. They are often unable to cope with what 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 asylum system, has resulted in the denial of tens of thousands of legitimate asylum claims.

Last week, Representatives Pete Stark, Jim Moran, and Zoe Lofgren took a step towards eliminating the deadline and returning the US to its former 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 the one-year deadline and ensure that every person who flees to the US in order to escape persecution and torture has a chance to apply for asylum, regardless of when they submit their applications.

The Restoring Protection to Victims of Persecution Act is an important piece of legislation that would fix a major flaw in our country’s immigration system. Members of Congress who are serious about immigration reform should show their support for the most vulnerable immigrants by supporting this bill.

Places: United States