Soviet-Era Program Gives Even Unoppressed Immigrants an Edge - 2017-08-26
"In a world where people are persecuted in many places for varying reasons, refugee resettlement programs should not privilege one category but rather prioritize the most vulnerable with the most compelling need to be resettled," said Bill Frelick, the refugee director of Human Rights Watch. He called the program for the ex-Soviets, known as the Lautenberg Amendment, a "Cold War anachronism."
The 1990 amendment, which was proposed by Senator Frank R. Lautenberg of New Jersey, established a legal presumption of eligibility for refugee status for Jews and Christian minorities from the former Soviet Union and Southeast Asia. That is a more lenient standard than for other refugee applicants, who must prove they face a well-founded fear of persecution.
Iranian religious minorities were added to the program in 2004. But Evangelical Christians make up more than 90 percent of the current Lautenberg pool, the vast majority of them from Ukraine.