U.S. Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) reintroduced the Tibetan Refugee Assistance Act today to provide visas to displaced Tibetans. Thousands of Tibetans have gone into exile due to continuing repression in their homeland. These refugees have worked to preserve their religious and cultural identity in exile communities in India and Nepal, but the influx of Tibetans creates many challenges and places an economic burden on these countries. Because they fled Tibet, current U.S. law may consider the Tibetans “firmly resettled” in a third country and might render them inadmissible to the U.S.
The Tibetan Refugee Assistance Act addresses this problem by providing 3,000 immigrant visas to qualified displaced Tibetans over a three-year period. The bill supports the well-being of the Tibetan exile community as they strive to find a peaceful solution for Tibet; helps the overburdened settlements in India and Nepal; and gives displaced Tibetans the opportunity to flourish as Tibetan-Americans.
Congressman Sensenbrenner: “With the recent earthquake in Nepal, this legislation is more important than ever. Nepal is home to a sizeable Tibetan refugee population, and the disaster has devastated the Tibetan community, especially in remote areas close to the earthquake’s epicenter. This bill is a timely expression of American support for the Tibetan people as they struggle for religious and cultural freedom.”
Congresswoman Lofgren: “The Tibetan people are in need of our help, and this bill is a small but useful step in the right direction. The devastation of the recent earthquake in Nepal, coupled with decades of persecution at the hands of the Chinese government make it all the more necessary for displaced Tibetans to be recognized by the United States for refugee assistance and afforded protection under U.S. law.”