The Lautenberg Amendment facilitates the resettlement of religious minority groups and is crucial to the LIRS mission of welcoming and walking with those who seek freedom and safety. The amendment has protected groups such as Jews, Christians, and Baha’is seeking to flee Iran, Christians and Jews from the former Soviet Union, Karen refugees from Burma, and Vietnamese refugees.
Although the amendment expired on September 30, 2013, through the advocacy of HIAS, LIRS, and other partners, the amendment has been extended for another year. Mark Hetfield, HIAS’ President and CEO commented that he was grateful that Congress had worked to “preserve Senator Lautenberg’s legacy of protecting persecuted religious minorities,” and further called on Congress to move forward with the Senate-passed immigration reform bill, S. 744, which “seeks to cement this legacy by creating new opportunities for other persecuted groups—with an emphasis on those seeking religious freedom—to receive protection.” Melanie Nezer, HIAS’ Vice President for Policy and Advocacy, echoed that gratitude but also cautioned that more must be done to fully protect refugees. “We are thankful that Congress increased funding for refugee resettlement and international protection,” Nezer says, “however…we remain concerned that funding for refugee resettlement will be insufficient in the year ahead.”
All people deserve to practice their religion free from harm. We are continually grateful of the powerful advocacy work of HIAS and proud that Congress has upheld the quintessential American value of religious freedom.