Senators Vote To Restrict Asylees and Refugees From Humanitarian Travel

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Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee helped to pass an immigration bill amendment offered by Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) that would terminate asylum or refugee status for people who return to the country from which they are seeking protection from persecution, except if given a waiver by the Secretary of Homeland Security.

The intent of the amendment served as a response to the recent Boston Marathon Bombings in which the suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev purportedly received terrorist training when he went to Russia and Dagestan even though he was granted asylum status in 2002. Asylees and refugees may have legitimate reasons for returning to their countries, but instead of judging each case individually, the automatic prohibition would broadly disregard those excuses. The repercussions of the amendment may curtail asylees and refugees from traveling abroad altogether.

The committee also approved an amendment inspired by the failure of the immigration system to catch the Boston bombings offered by Sen. Grassley (R-IA) last week, in which foreign students would be more heavily scrutinized when they change their immigration status.