Page images
PDF
EPUB

pared to join others in a bolder effort to meet basic human needs and achieve the fundamental human rights that underlie so many of the refugee and humanitarian issues we face around the world.

Tragically, the plight of the homeless and the dispossessed will be with us for many years to come and will continue to require international action. This is also a historic opportunity for the United Nations and its agencies to become more effective and involved.

With the end of the cold war, we are witnessing a greater willingness by many governments to address humanitarian problems collectively through the United Nations. Whether it is the Kurdish refugee crisis, the continuing problems in southern Iraq today, or the Cambodian issue, nations have joined together and are looking to the United Nations as the best forum for resolving them.

This can be our opportunity to strengthen the United Nations in dealing with humanitarian emergencies, and to energize at the same time the capacity of the U.N. agencies to undertake more effective action in the field.

For both humanitarian and foreign policy reasons, the United States must continue to deal urgently and compassionately with the needs of refugees. These annual consultations are an essential part of the effort by Congress to work with the administration to meet these responsibilities.

We welcome the President's representatives who will present the administration's proposals for refugee admissions into the United States and for refugee assistance abroad during the coming year.

Senator Simpson.

SENATOR SIMPSON'S OPENING STATEMENT Senator SIMPSON. Mr. Chairman, I thank you, and appreciate your work in this subcommittee, along with my colleague from Illinois, Senator Simon. It is the smallest subcommittee in the U.S. Senate and we deal with some awfully tough issues; this is one.

It is good to see the deputy secretary here, who serves our country so well, and these other people who are so loyal in doing what they have to do. Sometimes, I feel that further higher up we are not getting that same kind of cooperation.

One almost forgets that the Refugee Act stated that the President should send a member of his Cabinet to consult with the Congress on proposed refugee admissions. That is what it says. As the administration's annual admission numbers are nearing three times the "normal flow,” which is what it was supposed to be when I came to the U.S. Senate and greatly admired what my colleague from Massachusetts did in getting the original act on the books, and then tutoring me on what the intent was to get rid of the use of parole, all the abuses that were so egregious throughout those years in the late 1970's and then to see the normal flow now go to three times, I think one must guard against the thought that somehow the administration just doesn't take this seriously; not you folks, not that.

I think the House views are important, a letter yesterday from them which could best be described as being fed up. I like that be here; we just have a formality and nothing more. I think we are on automatic pilot, simply servicing the pipelines which we constructed years ago, but enough of that.

Secretary Baker is extremely busy in recent days. What a dynamo he is, and an inspiration for peace, and he always has this conflict with the meeting of the U.N. General Assembly in New York. Secretary Shultz had it; it just goes with the territory.

But this consultation has a particular significance because our refugee policy is becoming intertwined with our Middle East policy, and there has been developed a very complex relationship among our Soviet admissions, Soviet immigration to Israel, settlements on the West Bank, and the requested loan guarantees for refugee housing.

Yet, we here in the Congress and in this subcommittee continue to listen to a litany of complaints from the State and local governments that feel very put upon by the increasing number of refugees for whom they must provide services, while the Federal reimbursement for the cost of those services goes down and is lagging.

At the same time that the Congress is processing the legislation to provide $80 million to Israel for resettlement of their refugees, many of the needs in this country for refugee settlement go unmet. So, should we be increasing assistance to any country to resettle their refugees when we are not meeting our Federal resettlement responsibilities for our own refugees?

Congress has in years past made the point to groups as well as the administration that the annual admission numbers were ceilings, not quotas to be filled. Nevertheless, I note that this year, since the ceiling wasn't met in the case of the Soviets, we are adding that shortfall to next year's ceiling. So maybe it is time to stop fooling ourselves and begin using the term "quotas," no matter what the Refugee Act contemplated, and that is surely unfortunate.

We continue to take increasing numbers of refugees. We are very generous, and we are taking them from within their home countries, which is not what Congress intended when this chairman and many who were here before I was passed this Refugee Act. In-country resettlement was to be allowed only in very special cases.

We also continue to rubberstamp the approval of all refugee applicants from the Soviet Union without requiring even minimal evidence of qualification required by the Lautenberg amendment. According to a recent GAO report, that is the situation.

In Southeast Asia, we continue to insist that people who are found not to be refugees be allowed to remain in the countries which they entered where they are cared for by the United Nations because we cannot countenance returning these economic migrants to a "place like Vietnam,” which is a true phobia and unbecoming.

We should listen to the words of John McCain, who probably suffered more at the hands of the Vietnamese than anyone in this Chamber, and get on with the action and stop this silly business of the overreaction to Vietnam, especially as we try to bring them into the scope of the world's operations and assure that they have not retained our people in bondage and the prisoner-of-war situation. We will get to the root of that, and I am all for that.

But I say this because our refugee policy does need some very thoughtful attention from the State Department and the administration. I want to make very clear, Mr. Chairman, that I am objecting to the way we are using, or rather abusing, the Refugee Act. That is what I am objecting to, the gimmickry and the absence of a coherent policy. I am not objecting to the number of refugees. I want to be very clear on that. Take more, but let us let them be refugees.

If there are 150,000 persons out there who are truly refugees and who truly have no alternative, I think this country can and should accept them, and more. The Federal Government can and should do its fair share in providing reimbursement to State and local governments for the cost of those refugees for their first 12 months in the United States.

So let us take our fair share of the true refugees and act responsibly as a government in providing for their necessary expenses. Let us stop skewing the whole process by taking some folks who are not truly refugees in order simply to meet our foreign policy needs or domestic policy demands. There has to be a better way to meet those needs and demands than we are doing now. I think it is embarrassing to all of us who truly know the mission of the Refu

gee Act.

I want it clear, too, I am not a crusader for the 100-percent Federal reimbursement for all State and local costs incurred because of immigration or refugee flows. I do not believe we must provide the 36 months of reimbursement to the States that the Refugee Act of 1980 permits.

I also believe that some Federal assistance to local communities is necessary, and I believe that the proposed admissions level for fiscal year 1992, $144,000, is going to stretch local resources to the bursting point. For fiscal year 1992, there is no reimbursement of State AFDC or Medicaid costs associated with refugee admissions. More importantly, for fiscal year 1992, the period of reimburse ment for refugee cash and medical assistance will drop from 12 to 8 months in order to accommodate this year's increase of 13,000 refugee admissions to make up for the Soviet shortfall. That is too bad, absurd.

I think it is extremely foolish to risk political support in this country for a generous refugee admissions program, but I think this combination of increased admissions, just pro forma—here you are, guys and static funding is going to do just that; it is just going to do just exactly that, and that will very likely happen.

When you see our colleague and our friend, Pete Wilson, Governor of the State where nearly half of our refugees live, publicly state that refugee admissions might need to be cut if per capita Federal funding continues to decrease, this is a sign of serious erosion in political and public support for this refugee program.

This administration has made it a habit of blithely disregarding any of my consultation letters that have urged lower admission levels. They may disregard them again if they wish, but I truly believe we will all regret it very shortly.

I think, finally, I want to say I am proud of the generous refugee

make apologies for what we put in, with R and P grants—very generous, and people thrive on it in some places, often not refugees.

I believe most Americans are very proud, too, because they believe that we are doing our share to help the persecuted and the downtrodden find a home in this country. We are not always doing that; we are just simply doing it for a different reason.

So I am proud, too, of the job the Bureau of Refugee Programs and Princeton Lyman do for this country, and the efforts of Jewel Lafontant and the coordinator, and Chris Gersten and the Office of Refugee Resettlement, and Gene McNary, who has performed his work well, particularly considering the congressional restraints on their processing. So much of what I do certainly complain about is the result of politics here on the Hill and politics in the White House, and you folks who are in the trenches are not responsible for that. Someone else is, and we will get to hear who that is yet. So I look forward to your testimony.

Thank you.

Senator KENNEDY. With that introduction of Senator Simon[Laughter.]

Thank you very much, Senator Simpson. As always, Senator Simpson tells it as it is.

Senator SIMON. I wish he would be a little more candid. (Laughter.)

I have no opening statement. I do have a whole series of questions and areas of concern, and I think I am just going to hold off to the question period.

Senator KENNEDY. Senator Grassley.

SENATOR GRASSLEY'S OPENING STATEMENT Senator GRASSLEY. Mr. Chairman, obviously this Congress I have not been a member of this subcommittee, but for the 6 years that I was a member of the subcommittee I always participated in this process and I would like to participate in it now.

I don't have an opening statement, but I would like to say something to my good friend from Wyoming with all due respect to his position. There is one area where we haven't just sat back as a nation and opened our doors to people coming in in the sense that we had nothing to do with their being a problem or nothing to do with where they might end up, but they needed a place so we opened our doors to a lot of refugees.

But there is an area where we actually promoted the exodus of people from a particular country, and that is the case with the Soviet Jews. And after a decade and a half of hard work, we have seen remarkable success; it is a U.S. success story. And I think we don't want to forget an obligation that we have specifically in an instance where we encouraged the emigration and brought a lot of pressure to bear for that emigration. It was a success.

A lot of those people have ended up in this country. A lot of them have ended up in Israel, and wherever they end up, it seems to me, because the United States was behind that policy, we have some obligation to see that they are integrated into our society or whatever society where they end up because they probably would

not be leaving the Soviet Union if it were not for pressure our Government brought to bear.

Mr. Chairman, that is all I have to say.
Senator KENNEDY. Thank you very much.

We welcome the President's representatives to present the President's proposed refugee admission levels for 1992 and discuss the global refugee situation. We welcome back Deputy Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger, standing in once again for the Secretary of State. We welcome you here as the President's Cabinet representative. We hope the Secretary will be able to make it next year. We also welcome the U.S. Coordinator for Refugees, Ambassador Jewel Lafontant-Mankarious.

They are accompanied by Ambassador Princeton Lyman, Director of Refugee Programs, Department of State; Gene McNary, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Department of Justice; and Chris Gersten, the Director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

Mr. Secretary, we are glad to hear from you. STATEMENTS OF HON. LAWRENCE S. EAGLEBURGER, DEPUTY

SECRETARY OF STATE, AND JEWEL LAFONTANT-MANKARIOUS, U.S. COORDINATOR FOR REFUGEE AFFAIRS, ACCOMPANIED BY PRINCETON LYMAN, DIRECTOR, BUREAU FOR REFUGEE PROGRAMS, DEPARTMENT OF STATE; GENE McNARY, COMMISSION. ER, IMMIGRATION AND NATURALIZATION SERVICE, DEPART. MENT OF JUSTICE; AND CHRIS GERSTEN, DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF REFUGEE RESETTLEMENT, DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

Mr. EAGLEBURGER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. In view of Senator Simpson's remarks, I am reluctant to stick my head above the parapet, but I will try. I am pleased to appear before the committee today on the subject of the admission of refugees to the United States in fiscal year 1992. Ambassador Lafontant-Mankarious and I will discuss the President's formal proposal for the admission of up to 144,000 refugees in fiscal year 1992. I believe the committee has also received a report which provides the detailed information stipulated in the statute.

I would like to take a few minutes at the outset to put our refu. gee policy in the broader context of U.S. foreign policy and current developments in world affairs. We have, in my view, entered a period of historic transition in our foreign relations. The era of the cold war is over. Democracy is spreading not just in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union but throughout much of the rest of the world. Our vision of the new world order includes the hope that humane solutions will be found for the plight of the millions of refugees in the world today.

With the demise of Soviet communism, we are embarked on a period of worldwide conflict resolution. The past year has seen progress in Angola and Ethiopia and the very welcome recent political agreement in South Africa. Two weeks ago, Secretary Baker and President Gorbachev announced what we hope will be the first step toward conflict resolution in Afghanistan. The Cambodian factions have recently moved much closer to acceptance of a plan for

« PreviousContinue »