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Letters to Senator Kennedy, chairman, Subcommittee on Immigration and
Association, Sept. 17, 1990
tion, Oct. 1, 1990.
for Refugees in 1991,” report completed by the UNHCR Resettle
ment Section, Geneva, August 1990.... "World Refugee Report," a report submitted to the Congress as part of the
consultation on fiscal year 1991 refugee admissions to the United States, prepared by the Bureau for Refugee Programs, Department of State, Sep
tember 1990.. "Proposed Refugee Admissions for Fiscal Year 1991,” report to the Congress,
U.S. Coordinator for Refugee Affairs, Washington, DC, September 1990 ...
U.S. REFUGEE PROGRAMS FOR 1991
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 3, 1990
Washington, DC. The committee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:07 a.m., in room SD-226, Dirksen Senate Office Building, Hon. Edward M. Kennedy presiding.
Present: Senators Kennedy, DeConcini, Simon, Thurmond, and Simpson.
Also present: Jerry Tinker, staff director, Michael Myers, Toni Marwitz, counsels, and Richard Day, minority counsel, of the Subcommittee on Immigration and Refugee Affairs.
SENATOR KENNEDY'S OPENING STATEMENT Senator KENNEDY. Good morning. The committee will come to order.
The committee meets today, as required by the Refugee Act of 1980, to review the Nation's programs to assist and resettle refugees around the world. These programs continue America's long and proud tradition of humanitarian concern for the persecuted in every corner of the globe. Today, they represent some of the most important foreign policy issues before our country.
We meet at a time of extraordinary hope, but also of great danger and uncertainty. This is the first refugee consultation with the administration in the aftermath of the cold war. There is new hope for peace as a new era of international cooperation begins. In the humanitarian field, we have already seen fruits of this promise. In Africa, for the first time, the United States and the Soviet Union have joined in promoting urgently needed relief efforts in Ethiopia and southern Africa. In Cambodia and Indochina, we have engaged in negotiations and a peaceful dialog.
But the clouds of conflict and seeds of war remain, causing more refugees to flee, as violence and conflict persists among peoples and nations.
CRISIS IN MIDDLE EAST
The most serious crisis is in the Middle East, where Iraq's aggression against Kuwait turned nearly 1 million men, women, and children into refugees in search of food, shelter, and safety. During the past months, tens of thousands of innocent civilians trekked across the desert to Jordan in search of relief, only to be trapped in
a 100-mile long caravan of refugees, baking in the sun with little help available.
As nations mobilized for war, civilians suffered, as their urgent need for security and assistance went unmet.
We have also seen how civilians can be cruelly used as pawns for military and strategic purposes-against all of the rules of international law and humanitarian practice. Iraq's President Saddam Hussein has violated his Government's legal and moral obligation under the Geneva Conventions relating to the status of civilians in areas of conflict. Innocent persons have been turned into hostages.
In other areas of the world as well, large numbers of individuals continue to suffer.
In the Horn of Africa, food and relief needs are urgent. The specter of famine continues to haunt Ethiopia, Sudan, and southern Africa, especially Angola and Mozambique.
In Southeast Asia, recent hopeful signs for peace in Cambodia must not be permitted to reduce our concern over the humanitarian needs of the region, especially the plight of the boat people.'
In Central America, we must do more to ensure that the peace process in the region is not undermined by unwarranted economic problems in Nicaragua, or unresolved human rights abuses in El Salvador. Continued U.S. assistance should be based upon tangible progress toward peace, not the status quo of more military aid for more military conflict.
For both humanitarian aid and foreign policy reasons, we must deal more urgently and compassionately with the needs of refugees around the world. These annual statutory consultations with the administration are an essential part of our effort with the administration to meet this responsibility.
We welcome the administration's witnesses who will present the President's proposals for refugee admissions into the United States and refugee assistance for the coming year.
Just before introducing our witnesses, I will recognize the Senator from South Carolina.
SENATOR THURMOND'S OPENING STATEMENT Senator THURMOND. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman, we are here today to engage in consultation with the administration regarding its recommendations for admission of refugees to the United States for fiscal year 1991. I would like to welcome Deputy Secretary of State Eagleburger and the other distinguished panelists who will assist in enlightening the committee about the importance of this issue.
Each year, we are faced with the important, yet difficult, issue of determining the number of refugees allowed into the United States. Throughout its history, the United States has made strong efforts in opening its doors to refugees from other countries. While we cannot turn our backs on refugees facing persecution, we must also reconcile the number of refugees who are trying to immigrate to the United States with the ability of our country to accommodate them. It is vitally important for other countries to share the responsibility of accepting these refugees who are trying to get out of their countries due to political persecution.
Clearly, the large number of refugees trying to leave their countries each year is a worldwide problem which warrants strong efforts by all countries.
DEFINITION OF REFUGEES
The Refugee Act of 1980 states that a refugee-and this is one point I think the public ought to understand—that a refugee is one who must leave his or her country because of a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. In the past, we have not ignored the plight of those who face a well-founded fear of persecution. Yet the Refugee Act of 1980 underscores that we are unable to admit refugees who claim political persecution in order to gain entry to our country when in actuality they are merely seeking a better way of life. We can't blame them for wanting to seek a better way of life, but if they are not refugees, that is a different thing. We should be certain that there is a sufficient justification before admission.
In closing, we all share a concern about the future direction we take in regard to refugee policies. This hearing will enable us to examine the important issue of refugee admissions for fiscal year 1991. We look forward to the testimony and thank those who have come here to testify.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
STATEMENT BY SENATOR STROM THURMOND (R-S.C.) BEFORE THE FULL
We are here today to engage in consultation with the Administration regarding its recommendations for admission of
refugees to the United States for fiscal year 1991.
like to welcome Deputy Secretary of State Eagleburger and the
other distinguished panelists who will assist in enlightening the Committee about this important issue.
Each year we are faced with the important yet difficult issue of determining the number of refugees allowed into the United States. Throughout its history, the United States has
made strong efforts in opening its doors to refugees from other
While we cannot turn our backs on refugees facing
persecution, we must also reconcile the number of refugees who
are trying to emigrate to the United States with the ability of
our Country to accomodate them.
It is vitally important for other countries to share the
responsibility of accepting these refugees who are trying to get out of their countries due to political persecution. Clearly, the large number of refugees trying to leave their
countries each year is a worldwide problem which warrants
strong efforts by all countries.
The Refugee Act of 1980 states that a refugee is one who
must leave his or her country "because of a well-founded fear
of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality,