Politics

Rubio, Coons Introduce Bill Prioritizing Uyghurs For Refugee Status In Response To Genocide

DREW ANGERER/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Michael Ginsberg General Assignment Reporter
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Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Democratic Delaware Sen. Chris Coons introduced legislation that would prioritize members of the Uyghur minority group for refugee resettlement in the United States.

The bipartisan pair of senators are sponsoring the Uyghur Human Rights Protection Act, they announced Tuesday. Republican Florida Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart and Democratic Florida Rep. Ted Deutch introduced a companion bill in the House of Representatives on March 9.

“As the CCP is committing egregious human rights violations, including genocide and crimes against humanity, urgent action is needed to end the atrocities and assist Uyghurs and others facing persecution in Xinjiang,” Rubio said in a press release.

China sanctioned Rubio in 2020 for his criticisms of human rights violations against the Uyghurs, which both the Trump and Biden administrations confirmed rise to the level of genocide. (RELATED: ‘Crimes Against Humanity And Genocide’: No Meeting Could Change Biden Stance On China, Psaki Says)

The bill prevents the United States government from denying Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and other ethnic and religious minorities refugee status “on the basis of a politically motivated arrest, or other adverse government action taken against such applicant as a result of the participation by such applicant in religious, cultural, or protest activities.”

Refugees eligible for protection under the Uyghur Human Rights Protection Act would not be counted against immigration limits.

“To effectively compete with China, we must be the best version of ourselves, including by living our values and welcoming those who have been unjustly imprisoned in or forced to flee Xinjiang,” Coons said.

The House version of the Uyghur Human Rights Protection Act is currently under consideration in the Foreign Affairs Committee.