WHEREAS, more than fifty members of the Philadelphia Bar Association over the last several months have provided pro bono legal representation in the area of political asylum law to many of the nearly 300 Chinese refugees who arrived in the United States aboard the M/V Golden Venture on June 6, 1993 (the refugees), which refugees are currently detained in prisons in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania;

WHEREAS, as a result of that representation, members of the Philadelphia Bar Association have become aware of certain obstacles that these refugees and counsel representing them face including:

  1. The absence of legal counsel in some preliminary interviews in the United States, incompetent translations at asylum hearings, and the inability to seek and obtain supporting documents in advance of their accelerated asylum hearings, which inhibit the refugees' ability to seek political asylum under the laws of the United States and International law;

  2. Impediments to pro bono or other counsel representing the refugees, as individuals and as a class, in litigation requesting the grant of political asylum in the United States to the refugees. Such impediments include limitations on counsels' access to the refugees and insufficient time to allow counsel to prepare appropriate and cogent petitions and appeals to the Immigration Court;

WHEREAS, the refugees believe, and objective evidence suggests, that if the refugees are deported from the United States and returned to the People's Republic of China, they will be persecuted on account of their political opinions, religious beliefs, or opposition to the family planning laws of China;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Philadelphia Bar Association requests that the appropriate agencies of the United States government:

  1. Undertake measures to remove inappropriate and unnecessary obstacles to the legal representation of the refugees;

  2. Permit reasonable bail, where appropriate, to the refugees currently detained in Pennsylvania prisons pending resolution of their political asylum claims;

  3. Stay all orders of deportation of the refugees pending a review of their individual and collective political asylum claims by the United States Attorney General in accordance with domestic and International law; and,

  4. Grant special enhanced consideration, as defined in former President Bush's Executive Order No. 12,711, to the refugees who claim political persecution, or fear of persecution, on account of their opposition to the family planning laws of China.

ADOPTED: May 26, 1994