JCPA supports the vigorous protection of human rights as an integral part of U.S. foreign policy, especially situations involving genocide, mass atrocities, and sweeping population shifts due to displacement by war and violence. Effective American engagement in this area should be on a multilateral basis when possible and only unilateral when necessary.
Guided by our own history as refugees as well as our values of welcoming the stranger, the American Jewish community has always been a stakeholder in refugee resettlement and protection, both in the U.S. and in other countries—offering new beginnings, including helping to welcome more than three million refugees who have arrived in the U.S. for resettlement since the enactment of the Refugee Act of 1980. By definition, refugees are persons who cannot return to their countries of origin due to a well-founded fear of persecution on the basis of who they are or what they believe. The 1951 UN Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol (the Refugee Convention) prohibits returning a refugee to his or her country of persecution; requires access to fair and humane asylum procedures for all asylum seekers; and states that countries shall not penalize refugees for illegal entry or presence. There are 148 countries that have signed either one or both of these international legal instruments, including the United States, Israel, and all European Union member states.