Refugee Legislation

*Note: Updated for the 115th Congress (as of August 9th, 2017)


House Bills and Resolutions

Pro-Refugee Bills and Resolutions:

H.R.48 – The Equal Rights and Access for the Women of South Sudan Act requires that the United States’ nation building actions in South Sudan, including in police and military training, political training, healthcare and education improvement, are inclusive of women, their needs, and promoting gender equality. These actions extend to refugee women and children, and the bill requires that sufficient resources are allocated to ensuring maternal and female healthcare and that women have access to “food aid, shelter, relief supplies, and other services from United States-sponsored programs.” The bill also requires that all necessary steps are taken to both protect refugee women and children in camps from sexual exploitation and to help refugees return home safely. Sponsors: Rep. Jackson Lee, Sheila [D-TX-18] and zero cosponsors.

H.R.120 – The Unaccompanied Alien Children Assistance Control Act reduces the amount of foreign assistance given by the United States to Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador by $15,000 for every child who is a national of one of these countries and is in Federal custody because of his or her immigration status. Sponsors: Rep. Burgess, Michael C. [R-TX-26] and zero co-sponsors.

H.R.379 –  The Justice for Yazidis Act outlines crimes against humanity committed by the Islamic State (IS) against Yazidis, Christians, and Shiite Muslims. Sect. 3 of the bill states that Syrian and Iraqi nationals who are religious minorities within Iraq or Syria are classified as refugees of special humanitarian concern, are eligible for Priority 2 refugee resettlement processing, and may apply directly to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. No refugee can be disqualified for admission under Sect. 3 of this bill because the refugee is an immediate relative, qualifies for any other immigrant classification, or was referred for admission by a United States NGO. Iraqi and Syrian religious minorities who were denied refugee status after June 1, 2014, may reapply. The bill requires the Secretary of State to create a program that trains mental health providers in Iraq, Syria, and host countries of Yazidi, Christian, Shabak, and Turkmen refugees. Sponsors: Rep. Hastings, Alcee L. [D-FL-20] and co-sponsored by 3 Democrat Representatives.

H.R.390 –  The Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief and Accountability Act of 2017 addresses the blatant crimes against humanity committed in Syria and Iraq, and focuses largely on religious and ethnic minorities. The bill requires the United States to hold war criminals in Iraq and Syria accountable by conducting criminal investigations, collecting evidence, identifying humanitarian needs and working to meet them, developing investigative and judicial capacities, and making funds available for this work. The bill also makes Syrian and Iraqi religious and ethnic minorities eligible for Priority 2 processing for refugee resettlement and provides waivers for certain actions that usually would be grounds for inadmissibility as long as those actions were taken to avoid persecution. Sponsors: Rep. Smith, Christopher H. [R-NJ-4] and co-sponsored by 5 Democrat Representatives and 23 Republican Representatives.

H.R.565 – The Save Christians from Genocide Act states that Christians and Yadizis in Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Iran, and Libya are targets of genocide and gives them first priority among applications for refugee status. Christian and Yazidi nationals of these countries and individuals with no nationality but whose last habitual residence was one of these countries will have expedited visa processing and are not required to be outside their country of nationality to be considered for refugee status. Sponsors: Rep. Rohrabacher, Dana [R-CA-48] and co-sponsored by 5 Republican Representatives.

H.R.858 – The DREAMers, Immigrants, and Refugees (DIRe) Legal Aid Act requires the Attorney General to give grants to nonprofit legal services providers with immigration expertise. These grants must be used to provide legal advice and services to immigrants who are legal permanent residences, DACA recipients, or refugees, and their spouses and parents, who have already been admitted to or who qualified for admittance to the United States. Immigrants must be given the contact information of these legal services providers, and immigrants in detention must be allowed to speak with one of these providers. The bill affords $5,000,000 in grants. Within 180 days of the enactment of the bill, the Under Secretary for Science and Technology will conduct a study to note the differences in outcomes between immigrants with legal representation and those without representation. Sponsors: Rep. Correa, J. Luis [D-Ca-46] and co-sponsored by 57 Democrat Representatives.

H.R.1006 – The Access to Counsel Act states that any person subject to removal, exclusion, deportation proceedings, or inspection is entitled to legal counsel and representation as he or she chooses. The government does not pay for the counsel. If counsel cannot meet directly with a person in holding, detention, or inspection at a port of entry, redress options must be provided within the first hour of holding or detainment regardless of the day or time of day. Individuals held or detained at ports of entry cannot submit a valid Record of Abandonment of Lawful Permanent Resident Status or Withdrawal of Application for Admission if they have been denied access to counsel. Individuals held or detained at ports of entry or any detention facility must have access to food, water, restroom facilities, and must be held for the shortest amount of time and in the least restrictive conditions possible. Sponsors: Rep. Jayapal, Pramila [D-Wa-7] and co-sponsored by 46 Democrat Representatives.

H.R.1014 – The Haiti Emergency Relief Act of 2017 adds Haiti to section 244 of the Immigration and Nationality Act for 18 months so that Haitians who have been continuously present in the United States since November 2, 2016, may receive temporary protected status. Sponsors: Rep. Clarke, Yvette D. [D-NY-9] and co-sponsored by 18 Democrat Representatives.

H.R.1075 – The Freedom for Refugees Escaping Enmity (FREE) Act voids and nullifies the Executive Order “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” so that it has no force and cannot be implemented. No funds can be used to execute the order. Any immigrant currently in custody because of the order must be released. Visas revoked under the order must be returned, and there will be no effect on immigration status or benefits because of the order. Immigrants may not be discriminated against because of their religion or lack of religious beliefs. The president’s authority is limited so that she or he cannot modify the requirements for immigrant entry, reentry, or admission if the immigrant has a valid and unexpired visa, is a lawful permanent resident, has been granted asylum, or is a refugee who qualifies for admission or has already been admitted. Sponsors: Rep. Clarke, Yvette D. [D-NY-9] and co-sponsored by 18 Democrat Representatives.

H.Con.Res.4Expressing support for temporary protected status for Haitian nationals currently residing in the United States, and for other purposes. This resolution argues that the United States should continue to give temporary protected status (TPS) to Haitians currently living in the United States. Hurricane Matthew and the 2010 cholera outbreak devastated the Haitian economy and infrastructure, and to send Haitians back to these conditions would be inappropriate. Haitians living in the United States send back $1,000,000,000 to Haiti annually, more than the United States gives Haiti in foreign assistance, and to cut this money off by returning Haitians to Haiti would hurt Haiti’s recovery efforts. Allowing Haitians to continue receiving TPS in the United States will help Haiti recover and is in the best interests of the United States and Haiti. Sponsors: Rep. Hastings, Alcee L. [D-FL-20] and co-sponsored by 5 Democrat Representatives.

H.Res.94Commending Sally Quillian Yates for refusing to enforce Donald Trump’s discriminatory Executive Order 13769. This resolution commends Sally Quillian Yates for refusing to enforce Donald Trump’s Executive Order “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States.” The resolution calls the order unconstitutional and against the American values of tolerance, compassion, and respect for diversity. Sponsors: Rep. Clarke, Yvette D. [D-NY-9] and co-sponsored by 15 Democrat Representatives.

H.R.1503 – The Statue of Liberty Values Act 2.0 of 2017 or SOLVE Act 2.0 of 2017, beginning March 6, 2017, nullifies and voids the March 6, 2017, Executive Order “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” so that the order has no force or effect and cannot be implemented or enforced in any way. No federal funds or fees for any fiscal year may be used to carry out or enforce the order. Sponsors: Rep. Lofgren, Zoe [D-CA-19] and co-sponsored by 172 Democrat Representatives.

H.R.1544 – The Keeping Our Promise to Our Afghan Allies Act increases the number of visas available for the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa program from 8,500 a year to 11,000. This is the house version of S.608. Sponsors: Rep. Kinzinger, Adam [R-IL-16] and co-sponsored by 9 Democrat Representatives and 8 Republican Representatives.

H.R.2061– The North Korean Human Rights Reauthorization Act of 2017 gives the sense of Congress surrounding the humanitarian crisis in North Korea and states that the U.S. should seek cooperation from foreign governments to allow for the resettlement of refugees from North Korea into the United States if that be the refugee’s desired destination country. Sponsor: Rep. Ros-Lehtinen, Ileana [R-FL-27] and co-sponsored by 3 Republican Representatives and 1 Democratic Representative

H.R. 2161Venezuelan Refugee Assistance Act would adjust the immigration status of certain Venezuelan nationals who are in the United States as long as they have been physically present in the U.S. on Jan. 1, 2013, have been physically present in the U.S. for more than one year, and have not been convicted of any crimes during their time in the U.S. Sponsor: Rep. Curbelo, Carlos [R-FL-26] and co-sponsored by 2 Republican and 2 Democratic Representatives

H.R. 2408-The Protecting Girls’ Access to Education in Vulnerable Settings Act would provide safe education for displaced children, build up institutions in host countries to prevent discrimination against displaced children who seek education-especially girls, and increase the access of displaced children-especially girls-to educational, economic, and entrepreneurial opportunities. Sponsors: Rep. Chabot, Steve [R-OH-1] and co-sponsored by 1 Democratic Representative

H.Res. 342 Recognizing the essential contributions of frontline health workers to strengthening the United States national security and economic prosperity, sustaining and expanding progress on global health, and saving the lives of millions of women, men, and children around the world. Calls on U.S. federal agencies to develop a coordinated, data-driven action plan with specific targets to increase access to health workers in low- and middle- income countries, specifically in underserved areas and In the aftermath of natural disasters, disease outbreaks, and conflict. Sponsor: Rep. Nita M. Lowey [D-NY-17] and co-sponsored by 1 Republican Representative

H.R. 2597 – The West African Ebola Relief Act would extend temporary protected status (TPS) to certain individuals from Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea from May 19, 2017 to November 21, 2018. However, DHS can choose to extend TPS past the November 21, 2018 date if they so choose. Sponsors: Rep. Ellison, Keith [D-MN-5] and co-sponsored by 3 Democrat Representatives.

H.R. 2642 — Indonesian Family Refugee Protection Act would allow certain Indonesian citizens to file a motion to reopen their asylum claims in the U.S. if they meet a specific set of requirements. These requirements include that the individual be an Indonesian citizen that entered the U.S. within the period of January 1, 1997 and November 30, 2002, whose application for asylum was originally denied solely because they did not file before the 1 year application filing deadline. It further requires that the individual not be subject to the safe third country exception nor subject to a bar from seeking asylum. This motion may be filed either within or outside the U.S. An Individual who meets these requirements may be authorized to enter the United States solely to pursue this motion to reopen their claim to asylum. These hearings may be conducted within the U.S. or abroad, in person or through video call. Sponsor: Rep. Maloney, Carolyn B. [D-NY-12] and co-sponsored by 1 Democratic Representative.

H.R. 2944– The To Offer Refugees College Help (TORCH) Act would amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to provide in-state tuition rates to refugees, asylees, and those with special immigrant status. This will apply only to an individual who has established residency in a state and only in the first state in which they were first domiciled after being admitted into the United States. Sponsor: Rep. Huffman, Jared [D-CA-2] and co-sponsored by 59 Democratic Representatives

H.Res. 395 This resolution [r]eaffirming the leadership of the United States in promoting the safety, health, and well-being of refugees and displaced persons, provides the current refugee numbers, acknowledges the courage of refugees, and honors them through the recognition of June 20,2017 as World Refugee Day. It also calls upon the United States government to be a leader in supporting refugees, host countries, and resettlement programs Sponsor: Rep. Lieu, Ted [D-CA-33] and co-sponsored by 64 Democratic Representatives and 3 Republican Representatives

H.Con.Res.25 – The resolution Expressing the sense of Congress on the admission of refugees and immigrants to the United States decries the executive order “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” and its suspension of the U.S. Refugee Admission Program, travel ban of seven majority Muslim countries, and the suspension of the Visa Interview Waiver Program. The resolution states that the executive order does not reflect American values and that refugees should immediately be allowed to resettle in the United States regardless of nationality. Lawful permanent residents should be allowed reentry into the United States, and the Visa Interview Waiver Program should not be suspended because of its negative impact on students. Sponsors: Rep. Adams, Alma S. [D-NC-12] and co-sponsored by Rep. Velazquez, Nydia M. [D-NY-7] and 5 Democrat Representatives.


Anti-Refugee Bills and Resolutions:


H.R. 80 – The Resettlement Accountability National Security Act of 2017 would stop all admittance of refugees into the United States. Before refugees can enter the United States again, there must be a joint resolution by the House and Senate to allow refugees back into the country. 90 days after H.R.80 is passed, the Comptroller General must submit two reports to Congress: one report on refugees’ impact on national security, and one report on how much the government has spent on refugees over the past 10 years. Sponsors: Rep. Babin, Brian [R-TX-36] and co-sponsored by 68 Republican Representatives.

H.R.81 – The Resettlement Accountability National Security Prioritization Act of 2017 would ban refugees from Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, and Syria for the next four years unless Congress passes a joint resolution to admit these refugees. After four years, all refugees from these countries will be banned indefinitely from entering the United States. The Comptroller General will submit reports on refugees’ impact on national security, and on the benefits used by refugees for the past 10 years. The bill seeks to demonize refugees by painting them as a security threat and economic drain, and stops refugees from certain Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. Sponsors: Rep. Babin, Brian [R-TX-36] and co-sponsored by 2 Republican Representatives.

H.R.114 – The Social Media Screening for Terrorists Act of 2017 requires the Department of Homeland Security to search all Internet sites, social media profiles, and public records when deciding whether an immigrant is inadmissible into the the United States. Sponsors: Rep. Buchanan, Vern [R-FL-16] and co-sponsored by Rep. McCaul, Michael T. [R-TX-10] and 1 Republican Representative.

H.R.441 – The Secure Accountability for Emigres and Refugees Act of 2017 or the SAFER Act of 2017 requires that Syrian and Iraqi refugees take a lie detector test, give biometric identification information, including DNA, to be be tested against all relevant databases, and have a background check done on all their social media. Sponsors: Rep. Calvert, Ken [R-CA-42] and co-sponsored by Rep. Rohrabacher, Dana [R-CA-48], Rep. Knight, Stephen [R-CA-25], Rep. Hunter, Duncan D. [R-CA-50], and 1 Republican Representative.

H.R. 495– The Protection of Children Act of 2017 would amend the rules for unaccompanied alien children and place on the DHS the burden of deciding if the child is a victim of severe trafficking, if there is evidence they would be subject to trafficking if returned to home country, and if they have fear of returning to their country of origin due to prosecution. The DHS would then be forced to deport all children who do not meet these criteria. The bill would roll back protections already in place for unaccompanied alien children. Sponsors: Rep. Carter, John R [R-TX-31] and co-sponsored by zero co-sponsors

H.R.546 – The No Resettlement Without Consent Act requires the approval of a state’s governor before any refugee can be resettled in his or her state. The act also prohibits the resettlement of any refugee in a locality that has a law or policy that disapproves of refugee resettlement in that area. Sponsors: Rep. Culberson, John Abney [R-TX-7] and co-sponsored by Rep. Sessions, Pete [R-TX-32] and 4 Republican Representatives.

H.R. 604 – The State Refugee Security Act of 2017 would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to permit the governor of a state to reject the resettlement of a refugee in that state unless there is adequate assurance that the refugee does not present a security risk. The Office of Refugee Resettlement must notify the state 21 days prior to the refugee settling in that state. If the governor decides she or he has not received adequate information to determine that the refugee is safe, the refugee will not be admitted into that state. Same as S.211. Sponsors: Rep. Poe, Ted [R-TX-2] and co-sponsored by Rep. Babin, Brian [R-TX-36] and 10 Republican Representatives.

H.Res.120Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives with regard to the courts’ actions against President Trump’s Executive order. This Resolution rebukes Judge James L. Robart of the Western District of Washington for ignoring the Constitution, federal law, and court precedent by placing a temporary restraining order on the Executive Order “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” The Resolution says the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals erred in upholding Judge Robart’s restraining order. Sponsors: Rep. King, Steve [R-IA-4] and zero co-sponsors.

H.R. 2459– The Transnational Criminal Organization Exploitation Threat Assessment Act would mandate that the DHS conduct a threat assessment of the exploitation of transnational criminal organizations of the unaccompanied alien children services program. If a threat is found, the bill would direct the DHS to make the necessary changes to the unaccompanied alien children services program to address them. Sponsor: Rep. King, Peter T. [R-NY-2] and co-sponsored by 1 Republican Representative

H.R. 2604 – The TPS Reform act of 2017 amends the Immigration and Nationality Act to modify the procedure designating a foreign state. In order for nationals of a foreign state to receive temporary protected status(TPS),  that state must fulfill certain requirements. An Act must find that foreign nationals cannot return to their state because of armed conflict or natural disasters, and that admitting them does not go against the interests of the US. The Act must designate a time period for the effectiveness of TPS that is not greater than 18 months, and TPS can be terminated early if an Act finds that the state no longer meets the requirements. Under this bill, extensions of TPS cannot be greater than 12 months. Sponsor: Rep. Brooks, Mo [R-AL-5] and co-sponsored by 3 Republican Representatives.

H.R. 2826 – The Refugee Program Integrity Restoration Act would cap refugee admissions at 50,000 annually. It would restrict the ability of the Secretary of Homeland Security to waive grounds of inadmissibility for some refugees. The bill would delay refugees adjusting to legal permanent resident status to wait three years instead of one. The bill would terminate the refugee status of any individual returning to their country of origin, for any reason and without exception. The bill would create priority consideration for those individuals persecuted because of their participation in a religious minority group. The bill gives veto power to any state or local government wishing to stop the resettlement of refugees in their locality. Finally, the bill would make refugees have to prove that the violence from which they are fleeing is specifically directed at them in order to maintain refugee status. Sponsor: Rep. Labrador, Raul R. [R-ID-1] and co-sponsored by 8 Republican Representatives


Senate Bills and Resolutions


Pro-Refugee Bills and Resolutions


S.54 – The Protect American Families from Unnecessary Registration and Deportation Act of 2017 bans the creation of an immigration-related registry that categorizes people based on their religion, age, gender, ethnicity, national origin, or citizenship. This bill allows refugees and immigrants of all regions and beliefs to be granted entry to the United States of America in accordance with regulatory background checks and vetting processes that are not grounded on discriminatory qualities. The “Protect American Families Act” forbids the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, or any Federal department from developing and enacting a law or program to monitor entry of immigrants and refugees on the basis of religion, race, age, gender, ethnicity, national origin, or citizenship. This bill blocks funding to create an immigrant check-in plan. Simply collecting data about foreigners entering and exiting the United States is permitted, as well as collecting figures for programs that issue grants. These types of data can be gathered, but a registry cannot be assembled based on the accumulated records. Sponsors: Sen. Booker, Corey [D-NJ] and co-sponsored by Sen. Warren, Elizabeth [D-MA] and 9 Democrat Senators and 1 Independent Senator.

S.549 – The bill finds the executive order “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States,” signed March 6, 2017, in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) because INA prohibits visa issue discrimination based on race, sex, nationality, place of birth, or place of residence. The order also violates the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause and the equal protection granted by the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause. The bill prohibits using any of the funds, resources, or fees available to DHS or any other federal agency to implement or enforce the order. Sponsors: Sen. Murphy, Christopher [D-CT] and co-sponsored by 16 Democrat Senators and 1 Independent Senator.

S.608A bill to nullify the effect of the March 6, 2017, Executive order that temporarily restricts most nationals from six countries from entering the United States. This bill nullifies the executive order 13780, which, on March 6, 2017, banned most nationals from Iran, Somalia, Libya, Syria, Sudan, and Yemen, so that the order has no legal effect. Sponsors: Sen. Feinstein, Dianne [D-CA] and co-sponsored by 36 Democrat Senators and 2 Independent Senators.

S.630 – The Keeping Our Promise to Our Afghan Allies Act increases the number of visas available for the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa program from 8,500 a year to 11,000. This is the Senate version of H.R.1544. Sponsors: Sen. Shaheen, Jeanne [D-NH] and co-sponsored by 2 Republican Senators and 4 Democrat Senators.

S.1118North Korean Human Rights Reauthorization Act of 2017 finds extensive human rights violations in the North Korea and continued action by China forcibly repatriating North Korean refugees. As such, the bill expands United States’ role in distribution of information within North Korea by increasing funding to non-governmental organizations and giving the President the authority to establish a grant program for such information to be distributed. Further, the bill authorizes the U.S. government to work with countries bordering North Korea in preparation for necessary humanitarian assistance in reaction to a possible collapse of the North Korean government. Additionally, the bill condemns Chinese repatriation of North Korean refugees and asks China to stop repatriation, allow the UNHCR unimpeded access to North Koreans present in China, incorporate non-refoulment principle into domestic legislation, and recognize legal status of North Korean women who marry or have children with Chinese men. Sponsor: Sen. Marco Rubio [R-FL] and co-sponsored by 2 Republican Senators and 2 Democratic Senators.

S.Res.195A resolution recognizing June 20, 2017, as “World Refugee Day” provides the current refugee numbers, acknowledges the courage of refugees, and honors them through the recognition of June 20,2017 as World Refugee Day. It also calls upon the United States government to be a leader in supporting refugees, host countries, and resettlement programs. Sponsor: Sen. Cardin, Benjamin L. [D-MD] and co-sponsored by 17 Democratic Senators

S.Res.196 – A resolution expressing the sense of the Senate on the challenges the conflict in Syria poses to long-term stability and prosperity in Lebanon recognizes Lebanon as the country hosting the most refugees proportionally in the world and calls for continued assistance and coordination between the Department of State, UNHCR, and other humanitarian organizations. It also acknowledges that it is in the United States’ best interest to negotiate an end to the Syrian conflict, which would include the departure of Bashar al-Assad. Sponsor: Sen. Shaheen, Jeanne [D-NH] and co-sponsored by 1 Democratic Senator and 1 Republican Senator


Anti-Refugee Bills and Resolutions


S.354 – The Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment Act (RAISE Act) eliminates the diversity visa program and sets 50,000 as the maximum number of refugees allowed into the United States each year. All references to the Attorney General in section 207 of the Immigration and Nationality Act are replaced with the Secretary of Homeland Security. Parents are no longer considered immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, only spouses and children are immediate relatives. The number of family-sponsored immigrants allowed into the United States annually is 88,000 minus the number of immigrants paroled into to the United States in the second preceding fiscal year who did not leave the United States without advance parole for 365 days, and were undocumented immigrants during the two preceding fiscal years. 75% of family-sponsored immigrants are not subject to the numerical limitation on immigration. The remaining 25% of family-sponsored immigrants may be issued visas so long as the total number of visas issued to the country is less that the ceiling. The ceiling is 77% of the maximum number of visas available to the country. For family-sponsored immigration purposes, a child is anyone 21 years old or younger. The initial period of authorized admission for nonimmigrants is five years, but may be extended an additional five years if the U.S. citizen child of the nonimmigrant still lives in the United States. U.S. citizen children are responsible for their nonimmigrant parent’s support while their parent lives in the United States. Nonimmigrant parents may not live in the United States unless their U.S. citizen child can prove he or she has health insurance for the nonimmigrant parent, at no cost to the parent. Sponsors: Sen. Cotton, Tom [R-AR] and co-sponsored by Sen. Perdue, David [R-GA].