NEW YORK (Jul. 24)
Distressed that 3,000 Soviet would-be emigres are stranded in the USSR by cutbacks in the U.S. government’s financially pressed refugee program, the American Jewish Committee has offered a three-point program to “prevent a recurrence of this subordination of humanitarian to budgetary concerns in the future.”
The program is contained in an appeal made last week by Theodore Ellenoff, AJCommittee president, and Ira Silverman, executive vice president, to Secretary of State George Shultz.
It calls on the Reagan administration, the State Department and Congress to review its process of budgeting U.S. refugee and humanitarian programs.
The U.S. Embassy in Moscow announced July 8 that it had run short of funds to continue its refugee program, mainly because of a surge of visa requests from Armenians. The suspension was to have lasted until Oct. 1.
But after protests from members of Congress and Jewish organizations, the State Department shook loose an additional $500,000 from its worldwide refugee budget to enable the embassy to begin processing 400 Soviets in emergency situations and provide “timely departure” for an estimated 3,000 others seeking U.S. visas.
On behalf of those 3,000 and future applicants, AJCommittee made these suggestions:
“The State Department should allocate any available resources to make up for the underfunding of the refugee program that caused this suspension.”
The administration should support “supplemental appropriations” from Congress “to carry this humanitarian program through the current fiscal year.”
Congress should conduct its refugee consultations so that “sufficient numbers and funds be allocated to refugee programs in the next fiscal year.”