Press Release

November 21, 2019
Cardin Joins Colleagues to Introduce Bicameral Refugee Protection Act of 2019

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin joined Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif-19), in introducing the Refugee Protection Act of 2019.  Building upon previous versions of the Refugee Protection Act introduced by Senators Leahy and Lofgren, the Refugee Protection Act of 2019 is a comprehensive blueprint for restoring and reinvigorating U.S. refugee and asylum systems in response to the Trump administration’s attempts to shut the nation’s doors to refugees and asylum seekers.

“America’s strength is in our values and by rolling back our nation’s refugee admissions programs, the Trump Administration has stained America’s moral leadership and jeopardized the lives of millions of refugees and displaced people around the world,” Senator Cardin said. “The Refugee Protection Act, restores the U.S. commitment to global humanitarianism and enforces our national values of compassion, tolerance, and humanity.”

“As the world faces the worst refugee crisis in recorded history, the United States should be embracing our role as the humanitarian leader of the world – not retreating from it, as the Trump administration has shamefully done,” Senator Leahy said.  “In doing so, the Trump administration has abandoned decades of bipartisan support for our refugee admissions program as a bulwark of our national security and foreign policy interests.  The Refugee Protection Act of 2019 lays out a vision for how America should be responding to this worldwide refugee crisis – a vision that reflects who we are and have always been: a welcoming refuge for the persecuted and the oppressed.”    

“Today, there are more refugees, asylum-seekers, and internally-displaced persons today than at any time since World War II, and ongoing conflicts in Syria, Venezuela and Burkina Faso, among others, keep adding to this growing crisis,” said Representative Lofgren. “The United States has long been a global leader in offering safety and protection to victims of terror, abuse, and brutal regimes, and we must continue that American tradition. The Refugee Protection Act provides long-needed fixes to our nation’s refugee and asylum programs and ensures America continues to lead by example in assisting the world’s most vulnerable people.”

“The United States must always be a place where refugees are welcomed and encouraged to contribute to society,” said Harris. “But, from day one, the Trump administration turned its back on refugees and abdicated our nation’s moral responsibility to welcome children and families fleeing ongoing persecution. It’s not enough to undo the harm that has already been done—we must also revitalize our refugee and asylum system and expand protections for these individuals. That’s why I’m proud to join Senator Leahy in introducing the Refugee Protection Act, which would guarantee that refugees and asylum-seekers are welcomed and supported in our country and that our immigration system respects the basic dignity of every human being.”

“Located at the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty is a plaque that proudly states, ‘Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to be free.’ For decades, the United States has tried to live up to those words admitting refugees from all over the world fleeing violence and terror in their home countries. Unfortunately, while the world is experiencing one of the worst refugee crises in history, the Trump Administration has turned its back on people fleeing horrible violence and atrocities. The Refugee Protection Act would reinvigorate our commitment to those solemn words and reestablish America’s place as a beacon of hope for the rest of the world,” Senator Booker said.

In addition to Senators Cardin, Leahy, Harris, and Booker, Senators Hirono (D-Hawaii), Markey (D-Mass), Shaheen (D-N.H.), Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Wyden (D-Ore.), Murray (D-Wash.), Sanders (I-Vt.), Reed (D-R.I), Merkley (D-Ore.), Warren (D-Mass,), and Klobuchar (D-Minn.).

The House bill is co-sponsored by 31 Members of the U.S. House of Representatives: Representatives Lofgren (D-Calif), Nadler (D-N.Y), Jayapal (D-Wash.), Neguse (D-Colo.), Castro (D-Texas), Crow (D-Colo.), Dean, (D-Pa,), DeLauro (D-Conn.), DeSaulnier (D-Calif.), Engel (D-N.Y.), Escobar (D-Texas), Espaillat (D-N.Y.), Garcia, Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Higgins (D-N.Y.), Johnson (D-Ga.), Khanna (D-Calif.), Lowenthal (D-Calif.), McGovern (D-Mass), Napolitano (D-Calif.), Norton (D-D.C.), Pallone (D-N.J.), Panetta (D-Calif), Quigley (D-Ill.), Raskin (D-Md.), Sires (D-N.J), Smith (D-Wash.), Swalwell (D-Calif.), Watson Coleman (D-N.J,), Welch (D-Vt.), and Tlaib (D-Mich.).

The Refugee Protection Act of 2019 is endorsed by a wide range of refugee, asylum, immigration, and faith-based organizations. A short outline of the bill can be found here, and a sectional analysis can be found here. Text of the legislation can be found here