National Immigrant Justice Center

Action Needed Now to Protect Refugees in Immigration Reform

Call and fax Senate Judiciary Committee members now and tell them to vote NO to any efforts to keep an asylum application deadline.

Asylum seekers come to this country seeking protection under myriad circumstances. Placing a deadline on when they are able to request asylum would put many of them in danger, and does nothing to protect public safety.

Tell senators that to protect asylum seekers, we need a full repeal of the asylum application deadline.

What's happening in Congress: The proposed Senate immigration bill, S.744, would repeal the one-year asylum deadline. Senator Grassley's Amendment 27, which would keep the one-year deadline intact, was debated on May 20 during the Senate immigration bill markup. Senator Grassley eventually withdrew this amendment for further negotiation. He is expected to offer it again soon, potentially with language that would extend the asylum deadline but not eliminate it.

Why is an asylum application deadline harmful?

  • It disproportionately affects individuals suffering from grievous trauma due to past torture or persecution and those who were unaware that they might be eligible for protection, including LGBT asylum seekers. 
  • It has become a serious burden for the already overloaded immigration courts. Even for the lucky few who are able to find lawyers to help them apply for a waiver to the bar, it can take years of court hearings and tremendous resources.
  • Unable to apply for asylum, individuals who are otherwise found eligible for “refugee” status only have access to an indefinite limbo status with no opportunity to pursue citizenship.

Extending the deadline to 2 years, 5 years, or even 10 years would not address these problems, and would still subject hundreds of people to deportation to places where they face persecution.