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Bn12 26 jy 82
STATEMENTS OF COMMITTEE MEMBERS
CHRONOLOGICAL LIST OF WITNESSES
Graham, D. Robert-Continued
Prepared statement of Gov. Richard D. Lamm, of Colorado, and Gov.
ANNUAL REFUGEE CONSULTATION FOR 1982
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 1981
COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY,
The committee met, pursuant to notice, at 9:40 a.m., in room 2228, Dirksen Senate Office Building, Senator Alan K. Simpson (acting chairman of the committee) presiding.
Present: Senators Thurmond, Simpson, Grassley, Specter, and DeConcini.
Staff present: Richard W. Day, staff director and chief counsel; Donna Alvarado and Charles Wood, counsel; Arnold Leibowitz, special counsel; and Jerry Tinker, minority counsel, all from the Subcommittee on Immigration and Refugee Policy.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. ALAN K. SIMPSON, U.S. SENATOR FROM THE STATE OF WYOMING, CHAIRMAN, SUBCOMMITTEE ON IMMIGRATION AND REFUGEE POLICY
Senator SIMPSON [acting chairman]. Good morning. I think we are ready to proceed now.
I want to pay my regards to Chairman Thurmond who has been most gracious and supportive of me in my role as chairman of the Subcommittee on Immigration and Refugee Policy. I thank him for that. He has been more than helpful.
Here we go on another tough one.
During the past 18 months, the United States has carried out the major provisions of the Refugee Act of 1980 with varying degrees of success. The act requires this annual consultation between the executive branch and the Judiciary Committees of the Congress in order to provide legislators with the opportunity to consider the administration's proposals for refugee admissions to the United States in 1982.
Following the consultation, the members will meet. The Senate Committee on the Judiciary will then forward its recommendations on admission levels to the President.
In our oversight function relating to the Federal agencies charged with administering the programs authorized by the act, the committee will also assess the effectiveness of the policies and procedures governing the Federal refugee assistance effort-are they working?
The traditional generosity of the American people, I think, is richly illustrated by the leadership this Nation has assumed in assisting all victims of persecution throughout the world and by of
fering havens to those singled out for persecution by their own governments.
I think the United States has indicated in a very real way the commitment to freedom and to the inherent dignity of the individ
Throughout our history, refugees have earnestly demonstrated their gratitude by becoming productive American citizens and enriching the communities where they reside.
As chairman of the subcommittee, I want to reaffirm this commitment to assist those victims of persecution and those who are of special humanitarian interest to the United States and who, indeed, meet the definition of refugee as stated in the Refugee Act of 1980.
I feel that we must firmly adhere to and embrace the statutory provisions limiting refugee admissions to those persons who leave their homeland because of "persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion."
The last part of that definition is often omitted when we talk about refugees. It is a very important part of the definition.
I, too, emphasize the need to apply those criteria to each and every refugee application, since it is just not feasible or possible for the United States to accept for permanent resettlement all of those persons fleeing from governments whose standards of freedom do not match our own.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has estimated that there are over 16 million persons ranging the Earth at this time who cannot safely return to their homelands.
Clearly, then, this is an international problem requiring international responsibility and international solutions.
The Refugee Act establishes a "normal flow" of refugees to be accepted for permanent resettlement to the United States at 50,000 per year. However, since the enactment of that law, the Congress has been asked to approve three and four times that numbersometimes with the very sketchiest of data and information.
Moreover, those refugee numbers do not include the 133,000 Cuban-Haitian entrants paroled into the United States during
Please note this fact, and I think this is going to be critically important in this discussion: Neither do these refugee numbers include the 95,000 people who have arrived on our shores and are awaiting determination of their asylum petitions. That is going to have to be fed into this system.
There were less than 500 asylum petitions 10 years ago and 2,000 or 3,000 just a few years ago. There are now 95,000 petitions. That must be considered when we are talking about impact.
The international caring community must be made aware of that fact of numbers. It is too bad that we come just to the issue of numbers in this issue when we are dealing with human beings; however, that is where we are.
I do really believe that the American people will want to continue to shoulder their fair share in addressing the plight of the world's refugees. In the majority of cases, it would seem more humane for our country to render assistance in providing care and