Palestinian Refugees: Kyl Retreats

Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) yesterday withdrew his controversial amendment that would have discriminated against Palestinian refugees from Gaza. The amendment was reportedly based on internet rumors and triggered strong opposition both on the hill and from human rights organizations and activists, led by Amnesty International USA. Thanks to everyone who took action!

Palestinians: Keep out?

Should Palestinians from Gaza be treated differently under US refugee law? According to Senator Jon Kyl (R – AZ), the answer is yes.

A Palestinian boy pours water into a dish for a woman as she sits on the rubble of her home, March 6, 2009. (c) MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images

A Palestinian boy pours water into a dish for a woman as she sits on the rubble of her home in Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip , March 6, 2009. (c) MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images

Last Friday, Senator Kyl introduced an amendment to the Omnibus Appropriations bill, which adds the following line to page 942: “None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be made available to resettle Palestinians from Gaza into the United States.” This amendment comes after a time of conflict, which sharply deteriorated the existing humanitarian situation in Gaza.

Contrary to a policy of 30 years, which extends protection to refugees on the basis of need, this amendment seeks to discriminate against an entire group based on nationality alone. Any refugee deemed in need of third country resettlement who meets the criteria of the US refugee program and the security protocols of the Department of Homeland Security should have access to our program irrespective of his or her nationality, ethnicity, or religion.

A vote on the amendment is expected tonight or tomorrow morning! Right now we are contacting Senators offices and gathering NGO signatures for a joint letter to urge them to vote against this discriminatory legislation. Add your voice now.