US Representatives Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) reintroduced the Tibetan Refugee Assistance Act (H.R.2679), on June 4, 2015 to provide 3,000 immigrant visas to qualified displaced Tibetans over a three-year period.
In a statement, they said, “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.”
Congressmen Sensenbrenner had traveled to Dharamsala, India, in March 2008 as part of the Congressional delegation led by then Speaker Nancy Pelosi to meet with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and explore ways to demonstrate support for the Tibetan people. On his return to the United States, Congressman Sensenbrenner, along with Representative George Miller (D-CA), introduced the Tibetan Refugee Assistance Act on July 17, 2008 in the House (H.R.6536).
The bill introduced on June 4, 2015, which is substantially similar to HR 6536, provides that “An individual is a qualified displaced Tibetan if such individual is an individual who—
(A) is a native of Tibet; and
(B) since before the date of the enactment of this Act, has been continuously residing in India or Nepal.”
Congressman Sensenbrenner said: “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 added: “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.”