Throughout his time in elected office, Jim has been and continues to be an ardent advocate of internationally recognized human rights and civil liberty. Jim is an active member of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission (TLHRC). He actively engages in human rights matters with fellow Members of Congress, the Executive Branch, and foreign governments, experts and non-governmental organizations, using both public and private tools of diplomacy to bring about change.
Jim has been a consistent advocate of women’s rights to health services. Jim was one of the most vocal critics of legislation introduced earlier this year that would disproportionately limit low-income and minority women’s access to basic health care, as well as place unprecedented restrictions on the health insurance benefits offered middle-class women, civil servants, and small business owners. Jim’s op-ed on this subject can be found by clicking here.
Vulnerable Populations at Home
Jim forcefully champions human rights and civil liberties here at home. His involvement is informed by his diverse constituency, which includes humanitarian migrants and refugees granted asylum and resettlement in the United States. In August 2011, Jim introduced bipartisan legislation (H.R. 2763) to grant a two-year extension of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to assist elderly and disabled refugees while they apply for naturalization. This bill has more than 20 endorsements, including the National Immigration Law Center and the Refugee Women’s Alliance.
Human Rights Abroad
Jim is an active member of the House Democracy Partnership which works with legislators in emerging democracies throughout the world. Jim has raised human rights concerns at the highest level, ranging from maternal and child health, to detention of democracy activists, crackdowns against religious freedom, and protection of refugees and internally displaced people in war-torn countries.
Jim’s medical background and international experience provide him particular insights into global affairs. Jim recently introduced the "Medical Neutrality Protection Act of 2011" (H.R. 2643), which seeks to protect doctors and health workers caring for the wounded in times of war or civil unrest. Jim became aware of this issue in the 1980s during the civil war in El Salvador, where medical workers were killed, caught in combat, or attacked while working in refugee camps. Since then, Jim has sought to elevate in U.S. foreign policy the issue of medical workers’ protection in military conflict.