30 Proud Years: Asylum in America

06/14/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The Refugee Act of 1980 created an explicit asylum provision in U.S. immigration law and established a comprehensive framework for the resettlement of refugees to the United States. The law was a major accomplishment and stands as a prominent milestone in the United States' efforts to promote respect for human rights around the world.

Thirty years after the Refugee Act of 1980 became law, Human Rights First is commemorating this important anniversary, with a special briefing today in their New York offices.

The briefing will highlight the United States' achievements under the Refugee Act, honor the contributions refugees and their children have made to the diverse fabric of American society, and evaluate the ways policymakers can work together to overcome current challenges in the U.S. refugee resettlement and asylum systems.

The briefing will also include a discussion about Human Rights First's recently released comprehensive recommendations for reform of the U.S. refugee and asylum systems, as well as the newly proposed Refugee Protection Act of 2010. This bill, introduced last month by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Carl Levin (D-MI), is designed to strengthen America's commitment to providing refuge to victims of religious, political, ethnic and other forms of persecution by repairing many of the most severe problems in the U.S. refugee and asylum systems.

In the long hike of progress in advocating for human rights, it is important to pause now and again to appreciate accomplishments past, and set our sights on the next summit.