NEW YORK (Sputnik) — US Congress should pass legislation that would strengthen protections for refugees and improve the overall effectiveness of the asylum and resettlement process in the United States, Human Rights First’s Refugee Protection Program Director Eleanor Acer said in a statement on Thursday.
"A strong, effective and fair asylum and refugee resettlement process is more important than ever as the United States looks to lead, and encourage other countries to do more, to address the global refugee crisis," Acer stated.
According to Human Rights First, the current US asylum system has become increasingly inefficient due to a barrage of technical requirements, impediments to protection and flawed policies such as the use of detention that has led to delays and injustices.
The human rights group called on members of Congress to support the Refugee Protection Act of 2016, a bill that strengthens legal safeguards for those seeking protection from persecution and violence by eliminating unnecessary and prolonged detention of asylum seekers and promotes due process by providing appointed legal counsel to vulnerable individuals.
President Barack Obama pledged last year that the United States would accept at least 10,000 Syrian refugees by the end of fiscal year 2016, but managed to resettle only about 50 percent of that amount to date.
US officials have cited backlogs and staffing gaps as hindrances to resettlement, but the Obama administration has also faced resistance from Republican lawmakers over the security vetting process and possible impact of resettlement on US national security.
The ongoing war in Syria has displaced more than 11 million people, including 4.8 million who are in neighboring states such as Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.