New York (Oct. 13)
The American Jewish Congress hailed Congressman Edward Koch’s decision to withdraw his bill authorizing special US visas for Soviet Jews as “clarifying the authority already existing in our laws to grant refuge to any Soviet Jew who manages to get permission to leave the USSR.” In a statement issue today, Phil Baum, director of the Ajcongress Commission on International Affairs, also congratulated Attorney General John Mitchell for declaring that he would exercise his parole authority to admit to the US Soviet Jews who are able to get out of the Soviet Union.
Baum stated that the decision to withdraw the bill “recognized the absence of any ambiguity now over the power of this government to act, or its readiness to exercise that power.” He declared: “Those who have criticized Congressman Koch’s decision are clearly far more interested in preserving causes and programs for themselves–in protecting pet projects–than in securing positive gains for Soviet Jews. Those critics may find it personally disappointing. However, the enemy is not the United States immigration laws, but the repressive policies of the Soviet Union.”
Baum added that the problem “is not for Russian Jews to get into the US but to get out of the USSR. Irresponsible and petulant denunciation of the withdrawal of Congressman Koch’s bill only undermines public understanding that the laws of this country already provide ample authority for allowing the admission of tens of thousands of Russian Jews–not in the future, and not contingent upon any further legislation but right now.”