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United States/Burma: Chin Refugees Allowed to Seek Asylum

Responding to pressure by Human Rights Watch and a broad coalition of other groups, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on October 19 exempted refugees from Burma’s Chin state from a provision in the Immigration and Nationality Act that denies entry into the United States to anyone who associated with, or provided material support to a “terrorist organization.”

Admission of Chin refugees to the United States had ground to a halt last year because almost all had a connection to the Chin National Front, an ethnic resistance movement in Burma that falls within the overly broad definition of “terrorist organization.” With this recent waiver of the material support bar, vulnerable Chin refugees—fleeing serious abuse and discrimination by Burma’s authoritarian military government—will be allowed to seek haven within American borders. Human Rights Watch is now pressing Congress to amend the law so that other vulnerable refugee groups are not similarly barred admission.

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