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Resolution will help encourage release of woman and two children imprisoned in Sudan

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) today announced they have introduced legislation to grant Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag - an imprisoned Sudanese woman – and her two young children permanent legal status in the United States. The legislation is cosponsored by Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX), Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) and is companion legislation to a House bill sponsored by Representative Tom Cotton (R-AR). Ibrahim, who has been sentenced to death by hanging for refusing to renounce her Christian faith, is married to Daniel Wani, a man originally from Sudan, now a U.S. citizen living in Manchester, New Hampshire.

“Meriam’s situation and that of her two young children is unconscionable and unacceptable,” Senator Shaheen said. “No one should be persecuted for exercising the basic right of religious freedom and Congress must continue to support diplomatic efforts to secure their release so that their family can be brought back together.”

“Meriam Ibrahim’s death sentence is an abhorrent violation of the fundamental human right of religious liberty,” Senator Ayotte said. “I will not rest until Meriam and her two children are released from prison. We must act quickly to ensure their safety, and this bill would expedite the legal process and allow Meriam and her two young children to come to the United States.”

“We too often take for granted the blessing to live in a country like the United States that protects everyone’s right to religious freedom,” Senator Landrieu said. “As a mother and as a Christian, I admire Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag for her strength in holding fast to her faith and pray that together we will be able to protect her and bring her and her children through this terrible ordeal unharmed.”

“Just days ago, Meriam gave birth to baby Maya, while in leg irons, and because of her faith, the government of Sudan has sentenced her to 100 lashes and then to hang by the neck until dead,” Senator Cruz said. "This is wrong, it is grotesque, and it must be stopped. Every member of Congress should come together to support this bill and implore President Obama to act now, to defend religious liberty, and to save Meriam and bring her and her babies home to America."

“The United States has always been a refuge for those facing religious persecution,” Senator Wicker said. “The appalling treatment of Meriam and her children because of her Christian faith should not be tolerated by any nation. It is my hope that Meriam and her children will be reunited with her husband to live safely in the United States under the freedoms and protections we hold dear.”

Earlier this month the Senate unanimously passed a bipartisan resolution condemning Ibrahim’s death sentence.