02.04.14

Comment Of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee, On The Administration’s New Material Support Exemptions For Refugees And Asylum-Seekers

[Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) responded Tuesday to several new exemptions to immigration law issued by the administration that will assist deserving refugees and asylees seeking admission to the United States.  Vastly over-broad legislation barring admission of individuals who provided “material support” to terrorists was passed by Congress in the wake of September 11, 2001 and has led to the unfair and irrational exclusion of tens of thousands of refugees.  For years, Senator Leahy has focused attention on this problem and urged the executive branch to restore common-sense to the definition of “material support” to exclude activities like providing routine commercial and social transactions. The administration released exemptions today that would make some of these changes and provide vital relief for those seeking refuge in the United States.]

“I commend the administration for issuing these much needed – and long-awaited – exemptions.  For years, I have worked to reform our policies governing so-called material support for terrorism.  The existing interpretation was so broad as to be unworkable. It resulted in deserving refugees and asylees being barred from the United States for actions so tangential and minimal that no rational person would consider them supporters of terrorist activities.  These changes help return our nation to its historic role as a welcoming sanctuary to the world’s most vulnerable populations. It is long past time to return common-sense to our refugee and asylum laws and these new exemptions are an important step in that process.”

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