DHARAMSHALA, June 28: Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay, the elected head of the Tibetan people, has expressed his gratitude to US Senators for their support in the inclusion of a Tibetan provision in the immigration bill, which passed by the Senate on Thursday.
The landmark bill that promises to overhaul US immigration laws, contains a provision of granting 5,000 visas to displaced Tibetans in India and Nepal to enter the country over a three-year period.
“In my travels to numerous Tibetan settlements Tibetans have asked me for assistance on emigration,” Sikyong Sangay said in a release Friday. “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 and I’m deeply grateful for their support and for the inclusion of the Tibetan provision in the immigration bill.”
The Harvard law graduate, who took on the mantle of political leadership in August 2011, has officially visited Washington, DC three times since assuming office. “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 Dharamshala based Central Tibetan Administration said in the release.
14 Republicans and all 54 of the chamber’s Democrats after months of painstaking bipartisan negotiations passed the 1,200-page bill which seeks to bring reform to US immigration laws for the first time since 1986.
If passed by the House of Representatives, the bill will create a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented residents while ratcheting up security along the Mexican border.
In a White House statement, President Barack Obama hailed the Senate vote as "a critical step" toward fixing what he called a broken immigration system.
The bill is expected to receive stiff challenge in the Republican-controlled House. For many of GoP leaders, the path to citizenship for those who entered the US illegally is a form of unforgivable amnesty.
However, Sikyong Sangay expressed his hope that the Senate bill will receive support in the House of Representatives as well.
The Tibet-related provision was added in the bill last May
by the bi-partisan Senate Judiciary Committee.
Senator Dianne Feinstein, who introduced the Tibet amendment, cited "terrible" and increasing oppression by Chinese authorities against Tibetans.
Feinstein had 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 de facto
Tibetan prime minister had earlier called the inclusion of the Tibet provision in the bill “a great boost to Tibetans
and contribute to burden sharing of Tibetans in India and Nepal.”
“The passage of this provision provides a timely moral support to Tibetans as they struggle against a new wave of repressive Chinese policies, and represents a tangible continuation of the long-standing and bipartisan support of the United States for Tibet,” Sikyong Sangay had said.