WASHINGTON (Jun. 13)
Rep. Joshua Eilberg (D.Pa.) has disclosed that the United States will grant entry to an additional 12,000 Soviet refugees, most of them Jews, many now waiting in Rome to come to this country. Eilberg, chairman of the House subcommittee on immigration, said the Justice and State Departments have consulted with him and other key Congressional leaders about the need for a parole to allow the Soviet immigrants to enter the U.S.
The Congressman said that the 5000 parole numbers he requested late last year for Soviet refugees have been exhausted. A backlog has started to develop again in Rome. Eilberg said that as of the beginning of May, the number of applications in Rome pending to come to this country was 1600. In addition, Soviet refugees are arriving in Rome in hope of coming here at the rate of 1200 per month.
SPECIFIC LAWS URGED
Eilberg said that, as in the case of similar paroles granted to Indochinese refugees, he has long favored ending the Attorney General’s discretionary authority to admit refugees in this manner. This authority, he said, should be replaced with specific refugee legislation.
“But as in the case of the Indochinese refugees, the pressing humanitarian needs of the East European refugees mandate that they be paroled into the United States,” Eilberg said. “We cannot wait for the legislative process to be completed to act on the several refugee crises we now face.” Eilberg explained that eliminating the build-up in Rome is necessary to avoid giving the Soviet Union a reason to restrict future exit permits.
It is also necessary to avoid straining the hospitality extended by Italy as a temporary host country, he said. The subcommittee chaired by Eilberg is considering legislation to end the piecemeal approach to admitting refugees. A bill introduced by Eilberg would regularize the entry of refugees under normal conditions and in emergency situations.