Dharamsala: - Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay, the elected political leader of Tibetans has praised the passage by the U.S. Senate of an immigration bill that could help many Tibetan refugees currently living in India and Nepal.
In a strong show of support for immigration reform, the United States Senate voted 68-to-32 on June 27, 2013 and passed an immigration reform bill that the New York Times, echoing the views of many, characterized as the "most significant overhaul of the nation's immigration laws in a generation."
Among many provisions of the bill, one includes creation of 5,000 immigrant visas for displaced Tibetans in India and Nepal over a three-year period. The Tibet-related provision received broad bi-partisan support and was introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein and cosponsored by Chairman Patrick Leahy and Senator Chuck Schumer.
"In my travels to numerous Tibetan settlements Tibetans have asked me for assistance on emigration. My colleagues in the Kashag and I have been working for over a year on this issue. I have had the opportunity to meet with several Senators from both parties," said Sikyong Dr. Lobsang Sangay.
"I'm deeply grateful for their support and for the inclusion of the Tibetan provision in the immigration bill. I now hope the Senate bill will receive support in the House of Representatives as well," he added.
The Sikyong has officially visited Washington, DC three times since assuming the office of the Sikyong. In his meetings with various Congressional leaders and their key aides, the Sikyong and his staff has pressed the case for Tibet and Tibetans, including with regard to immigration issues.
The immigration bill that passed the US Senate now faces a potentially long and tenuous prospect in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives where immigration reform is a relatively more contentious issue.
If the House works on its own immigration bill then the Senate and House bills will need to be reconciled. It is also possible that the Congress may not be able to come to an agreement on a final bill.