May 12, 2011

60th Anniversary of the 1951 U.N. Refugee Convention

[Page: H3166]  GPO's PDF 

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The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Chu) for 5 minutes.

Ms. CHU. Madam Speaker, I rise today in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the 1951 Convention related to the Status of Refugees. The Convention was historic in spelling out a set of basic human rights that should be afforded a refugee. It was initially directed toward European refugees in the aftermath of World War II, but was expanded in 1967 to include refugees from all around the world. The U.N. Convention defines who a refugee is, and outlines assistance that refugees should receive. It stipulates that refugees should not be returned to a country where they fear persecution.

My district in the San Gabriel Valley of California is home to a large and diverse refugee population who fled persecution from countries such as Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. In Los Angeles County they come from places as far as Iran to El Salvador.

Since arriving on our shores, many of the refugees have established themselves as civic leaders, small business owners and hardworking Americans. Some are working with resettlement agencies to help new refugee populations integrate, settle their families, and restart their lives.

The open arms with which our Nation welcomes refugees from around the world reaffirms America's commitment to human rights. And on this 60th anniversary, I look forward to continuing the U.S. commitment to human rights through strengthening of our refugee resettlement program.

(House of Representatives - May 11, 2011)

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