Reps. Maloney and Pallone introduce bill to allow Indonesians fleeing religious persecution a chance at asylum

Dec 7, 2011
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) and Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) introduced legislation, the Indonesian Family Refugee Protection Act (HR 3590), that would give Indonesian citizens fleeing religious persecution an opportunity to reopen asylum claims that were denied solely for missing the one-year filing deadline for asylum in the U.S.. The legislation would allow these Indonesian citizens, many of whom arrived during a five-year timeframe (January 1, 1997 – November 30, 2002), the opportunity to reopen their claims during the two-year period following enactment.

“The United States has long sought to protect refugees fleeing persecution and provide a process to fairly consider their claims. These individuals came to this country, seeking relief from extreme violence and persecution for their religious beliefs, and deserve a chance at asylum,” said Maloney. “This bill does not, in itself, grant asylum, but merely removes a procedural barrier, keeping these families from being ripped apart.”

“The legislation we are introducing today will allow Indonesian citizens who fled religious persecution a fair opportunity at applying for asylum in the United States,” Pallone said.  “Many of these individuals, who have become valuable members of their local communities, may be forced to return to perilous circumstances without action. Giving these individuals a chance at applying for asylum ensures that we uphold the most American of values of protecting those fleeing religiously motivated violence and intolerance.”

“This bill is critical to get the attention of the immigration authorities,” said the Rev. Seth Kaper-Dale, who has been working for years to assist the refugees. “The Indonesian community will only be safe when there are legislative changes at the Federal level, and we’re grateful and Representatives Maloney and Pallone have taken the lead on making that happen.”



Today’s New York Times story on the plight of the Indonesians here:

Previous NYT story on the topic here:

Beginning in 1997, many Indonesian Christians fled religious persecution in Indonesia, where extreme violence and destruction of churches drove them from their homes. Many of these refugees were able to come to the United States on tourist visas that were easily obtained at the time. However, many of these refugees who overstayed their visas were given inadequate attention and advice from overburdened immigration lawyers and did not file for asylum within the one-year deadline.