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Religious groups oppose asylum restrictions that bill would create


(RNS) A coalition of Christian and Jewish groups is opposing proposed legislation it says would turn away victims of religious persecution seeking safety in the U.S.

The coalition of 21 faith-based organizations released a report April 12 on the REAL ID Act and urged the Senate not to attach it to an emergency supplemental spending bill being debated in Congress.

The REAL ID Act passed in the House Feb. 10, attached to a spending bill. Supporters say it provides stronger safeguards against terrorists who would falsely apply for asylum.

The legislation would require immigrants seeking asylum to back up their testimony with documents and prove the main motivation of their tormentors. The bill also gives immigration officers and judges more power in reviewing asylum cases.

Barrett Duke, vice president for public policy and research of the Washington-based Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, said the changes would hurt those genuinely needing the safe haven of the United States to flee from persecution.