Dianne Feinstein, senior United States Senator from California.
DHARAMSHALA, May 21: A Senate committee of the United States on Monday approved a provision of granting 5,000 visas to Tibetan refugees to enter the US over a three-year period.
The Senate Judiciary Committee added the Tibet provision with a voice vote while debating the immigration overhaul bill, which deals with the path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants already in the US.
However, it must be noted that the Tibetan visa provision will come into effect only after the wider immigration bill is passed by both the Senate and the House of Representatives and becomes a law.
Senator Dianne Feinstein, who introduced the Tibet amendment, cited "terrible" and increasing oppression by Chinese authorities against Tibetans.
Feinstein said the measure, approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee would ease conditions for displaced Tibetans living in India and Nepal, where she noted Tibetan resettlement facilities are more than 50 years old.
"In Nepal, the government has been essentially following Chinese mandates to make it very difficult for the Tibetan refugee community," the veteran Democrat told fellow senators.
The provision, which is being called the ‘Tibetan Refugee Assistance Act of 2013,’ states that 5,000 immigrant visas “shall be made available to qualified displaced Tibetans” during the 3-year period beginning on October 1, 2013.
The Act describes qualified displaced Tibetans “in general” as individuals who are native of Tibet and have been continuously residing in India or Nepal since before the date of the enactment of this Act.
The Act further states that an individual shall be considered a native of Tibet “if such individual was born in Tibet; or is the son, daughter, grandson, or granddaughter of an individual who was born in Tibet.”
More than 300 amendments are considered for the bipartisan immigration bill, which would ultimately provide a 13-year path to citizenship, or longer, for most of the 11 million people living in the US illegally.