Lankford Urges Discretion, Relief for Refugees and Immigrants During COVID-19 Crisis

Senators James Lankford (R-OK) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) are urging Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Chad Wolf to exercise discretion and automatically extend the validity periods of critical documents for refugees and Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holders approved for resettlement in the United States until COVID-19 travel restrictions are lifted. They emphasized that this small, reasonable measure would provide much-needed relief to refugees and SIV holders—who are among the most vulnerable populations amidst this global pandemic.

In their letter, the senators wrote: “We write to ask the Departments of State and Homeland Security to take immediate action to ensure that refugees and Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) recipients approved for resettlement in the United States are not needlessly harmed amidst this growing COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, we urge you to exercise your discretion, consistent with each of your Department’s policies, to automatically extend the validity periods of all approved special immigrant visas and other refugee-related documents during the course of this crisis.”

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