Congress to Consider New Legislation to Assist Tibetan Refugees

The bipartisan Tibetan Refugee Assistance Act has been introduced in the to U.S. Congress by two lawmakers. It proposes granting 3,000 immigrant visas over a three-year period to qualified displaced Tibetans.

The Dalai Lama in Minnesota, June 2017
His Holiness the Dalai Lama

“The United States has a long record of giving humanitarian assistance to other countries in need, including providing refuge to those persecuted abroad,” said Republican Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner of Illinois, who reintroduced the Act in the House of Representatives June 27 along with Democratic Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren of California. The Bill seeks to help overburdened settlements in India and Nepal.

Lofgren said the Tibetan people have suffered decades of persecution at the hands of the Chinese government. “After the devastation of the 2015 earthquake in Nepal, it is even more necessary for displaced Tibetans to be recognized by the United States for refugee assistance and afforded protection under U.S. law,” she said.

The two Congressmen note that thousands of Tibetans are forced to flee the repression they suffer in their homeland. The Tibetan community has worked to preserve its religious and cultural identity in exile in communities in India and Nepal, but the influx of Tibetans creates many challenges and places an economic burden on these countries.

“Because they fled Tibet, current U.S. law may consider the Tibetans ‘firmly resettled’ in a third country and might render them inadmissible to the U.S.,” the lawmakers said.

Congresswoman Betty McCollum of Minnesota urged her Congressional colleagues and the President to stand with the people of Tibet to promote human rights and religious freedom. “China is a powerful country. But the United States is a free and powerful country. The United States must never abandon our commitment to freedom, justice, and human rights around the world. And, we must never abandon the people of Tibet,” she said in her remarks to welcome the Dalai Lama to Minnesota June 24.

“Let me also urge President Trump to meet directly with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and listen to his wise and compassionate insights. Mr Trump needs to hear why ongoing U.S. support for Tibet is vital,” she said.

Tibet U.S. Congress Dalai Lama Tibetan refugees bipartisan legislation