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US DEPARTMENT OF STATE
93/09/23 Testimony on Refugee Admissions
Office of the Spokesman




AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY


                            STATEMENT OF
                   THE HONORABLE WARREN CHRISTOPHER
                          SECRETARY OF STATE
                              BEFORE THE
                   SENATE COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
                           SEPTEMBER 23, 1993

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee:

I am very pleased to appear before the Committee today to outline the 
President's proposal for the admission of 120,000 refugees to the United 
States in fiscal year 1994.  I believe the Committee has already 
received a report that provides detailed information about refugee 
admissions as required by the Refugee Act.  It is our hope that the 1994 
refugee admissions program will receive the broad bipartisan support 
from the Congress that it has received in the past.

Before turning specifically to the refugee admissions program, however, 
I would like to comment briefly on the past year's world-wide refugee 
situation, current trends, and the future direction of U.S. refugee 
policy.

Positive political changes in several parts of the world have reduced 
the "push" factor -- the conditions that impel people to leave their 
countries -- and increased the "pull" factor -- the conditions that 
cause people to return home -- making significant refugee repatriation 
possible.  In Cambodia, a major repatriation effort, directed by the 
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), resulted in the 
return of all 370,000 persons from camps along the Thai-Cambodian 
border.  An internationally-sanctioned election in May of this year 
provides the best hope for stability in Cambodia and will enable 
repatriated refugees to re-build their society.  In Afghanistan and 
Central America, refugees continue to return home, and, following a 
political settlement in Mozambique, upwards of 200,000 refugees have 
returned home spontaneously in the past year.

For the first time in almost two years, there is hope that respect for 
human rights and democracy will be restored to Haiti.  The recent 
signing of the Governor's Island accords and the installation of Prime 
Minister Malval are not only a victory for democracy throughout the 
hemisphere, but a major accomplishment for the international community, 
which acted together and firmly on this issue.  The return of 
constitutional government and the resumption of economic development 
will help put an end to the despair that has caused so many Haitians to 
leave their country.

The prospects for peace in the Middle East have never been brighter.  
The agreement that was signed in Washington on September 13 is the first 
step in a process that will address the needs of the Palestinian 
refugees.  We are only at the beginning, and much work will have to be 
done, but the foundations have been laid.  It is the responsibility of 
the United States and the rest of the international community to help 
the Palestinians and the Israelis continue the peace process.

On the other hand, genuine human tragedies in the former Yugoslavia and 
the Horn of Africa -- tragedies that are creating thousands of refugees 
-- continue unabated.  Of special concern is the devastation that has 
occurred in Bosnia-Herzegovina.  This tragic conflict has taken a 
terrible human toll and threatens the stability of the entire region.

In Bosnia-Herzegovina, we continue our efforts to assist the more than 4 
million displaced persons and refugees in the area.  The United States 
has contributed over $350 million to the relief effort.  We continue to 
look for ways and means to increase assistance.  We are very concerned 
about the shortage of both funding and food for the United Nations 
agencies working in the former Yugoslavia.  Under almost any scenario, 
the problems of food and shelter as winter impends will be a major 
challenge to the international community.  We are encouraging 
multilateral action, especially on the part of European countries, which 
we believe have a special responsibility for providing humanitarian 
assistance to the region.

Migration

Our policy addresses refugees from the warfare in Bosnia-Herzegovina, 
the political instability in Haiti, and the conflicts in Africa such as 
the one in southern Sudan.  But there is also overall migration of 
persons around the world as the result of population pressures, poverty, 
environmental degradation and other factors.  While we seek to ensure 
protection for those who are fleeing persecution, we must be resolute in 
our efforts to make it possible for would-be migrants to opt to remain 
at home.  This Administration's determination to spur world economic 
growth -- through efforts such as NAFTA -- will help.   So will our 
assistance on global issues such as population and the environment.

While legal immigration, including the resettlement of legitimate 
refugees, enriches our country, it is important to reduce illegal 
immigration.  The President has already taken significant steps and has 
placed proposals before the Congress to address more effectively illegal 
immigration to the United States.   Improvements include increasing 
border control resources, improving visa issuance procedures, 
expeditiously repatriating illegal and criminal aliens and increasing 
criminal penalties for alien smuggling.  At the same time, we will seek 
to ensure protection for genuine refugees.

New Approaches to Refugee Assistance
Ten years ago there were approximately 8 million refugees worldwide; now 
there are an estimated 18 million.  We are faced with complex 
humanitarian emergencies.  Ten years ago, most of those assisted had 
crossed an international border to become refugees; now many populations 
receiving assistance are displaced persons still within their national 
borders, and others are conflict victims still in their homes.  This 
complicates relief efforts -- and also creates security problems for the 
UN and NGO personnel engaged in relief -- as we have seen all too often 
in Bosnia and Somalia.

The United Nations system, through the Department of Humanitarian 
Affairs (DHA), has begun to move more effectively to coordinate its 
emergency relief activities in complex emergencies, and we have seen the 
active cooperation of UN agencies in the field.  UNHCR, the World Food 
Program, UNICEF, and the World Health Organization have taken measures 
to improve their emergency response capabilities.  All have played an 
important role in the emergency in Bosnia.  Further work is needed, in 
particular the coordination of humanitarian activities with peace-
keeping and political affairs at UN Headquarters.  Enhancing such 
coordination is an important foreign policy objective for the Clinton 
Administration.

In responding to large-scale refugee emergencies, we believe that two 
objectives must be pursued simultaneously:  (l) humanitarian assistance 
and protection for those in need, and (2) durable solutions, especially 
conflict resolution and repatriation when conditions permit.  We must 
recognize that third-country resettlement, while an appropriate and 
important option in many cases, is not a realistic alternative for the 
large majority of the world's nearly 18 million refugees.  The 
international community does have resources, however, to provide all 
refugees with basic protection and assistance, and that is a critical 
U.S. refugee policy goal.

Refugee Admissions
As reported before this Committee last year, current trends indicate 
that barring any unforeseen circumstances, the number of persons 
requiring permanent resettlement in the United States should decline 
significantly in the next few years.  By the end of this fiscal year, we 
will have met our commitment to resettle in the United States all known 
and eligible Amerasian children and their families from Vietnam.  Within 
the next two years, we anticipate that all eligible Vietnamese re-
education camp prisoners, that is, those interned for more than three 
years because of their association with the U.S., will have entered the 
U.S.  We also expect that within the next two years, we will need to 
bring the Soviet refugee admissions program into conformity with 
emerging realities in the former Soviet Union.  In the future, in 
concert with the international community, the U.S. will continue, albeit 
on a smaller scale, to resettle our fair share of those refugees who 
have no alternative to resettlement.  We will also continue to expand 
our assistance to vulnerable persons identified by the UNHCR as persons 
in need of third-country resettlement.

I would like to address for a moment the recent expressions of concern 
in the Congress and the press about the resettlement of Iraqi refugees 
in the United States.  First, no one is resettled in the United States 
without demonstrating a well-founded fear of persecution.  Many of these 
Iraqi refugees have credible accounts of torture and abuse.  Second, 
many of the Iraqi conscripts held little enthusiasm for the war and fled 
their country early on -- sometimes at the behest of the allied forces.  
These deserters actively opposed the regime and formed the corps of 
freedom fighters who refused to participate in the invasion of Kuwait 
and fought to overthrow Saddam in March of 1991.  Many were themselves 
members of persecuted ethnic or religious minority groups.

We fully recognize that members of Congress would like the reassurance 
that our government will not resettle Iraqi soldiers who took up arms 
against our country, and we are prepared to explore additional 
safeguards to ensure against U.S. entry of those whose activities might 
have been inimical to U.S. interests.  However, all available evidence, 
including a just completed file review of several hundred recent cases, 
indicates that all accepted applicants were deserving beneficiaries of 
this humanitarian effort.  Those who fail to meet our rigorous criteria 
are not admitted for resettlement.  It is an honorable policy, in full 
accord with the American tradition.

The President's proposal for fiscal year 1994 permits the funded 
admission of 120,000 refugees -- a reduction of 2,000 from the current 
fiscal year.  I am pleased to report that as part of this year's 
consultations process, improved high level coordination between State 
and HHS has permitted us to ensure that sufficient funds will be 
available to cover the costs of resettlement of up to 120,000 refugees.

Since 1990, separate regional ceilings have been used for the former 
Soviet Union and for Eastern Europe.  However, given the crisis in the 
former Yugoslavia and the need for maximum flexibility in refugee 
admissions processing, particularly for Bosnians, we propose to 
recombine these two ceilings for fiscal year 1994.

We propose that the 120,000 admissions numbers be divided as follows: 
East Asia -- 45,000; Former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe -- 55,000; 
Near East/South Asia -- 6,000; Africa -- 7,000; and Latin 
America/Caribbean -- 4,000.  In addition, we have included an 
unallocated reserve of 3,000 numbers, up from 1,000 numbers in fiscal 
year 1993, which, after consultation with Congress, could be used in 
regions where allocated numbers prove to be insufficient

In the past year, we initiated or improved several refugee admission 
programs, most notably for Haitians and Bosnians.  The week after 
President Clinton's inauguration, a technical team composed of State 
Department, INS and Congressional staff, travelled to Haiti at the 
President's direction to determine ways to enhance in-country refugee 
processing.  That effort was in support of the President's commitment to 
expand viable alternatives to perilous boat departures.  Based upon the 
team's recommendations, significant improvements to the program were 
made.  We doubled processing capacity, streamlined processing 
procedures, opened two new refugee processing facilities, and expanded 
access to those Haitians interdicted by the Coast Guard.  Our policy 
towards Haitian migrants and refugees is under continual review and we 
will consult with Congress on this important issue as political 
developments unfold.

As I stated earlier, the United States has committed a significant 
amount of money and materiel to help Bosnians who are displaced within 
Bosnia or have become refugees beyond its borders.  We continue to 
believe that assistance in place should be the primary focus of our 
efforts.  We do not believe that large-scale resettlement of refugees is 
required at this time.  However, we do believe that it is necessary to 
admit certain groups of special humanitarian concern.  For this reason, 
we expanded the admission program to include several vulnerable groups 
designated by UNHCR, as well as the Bosnian Muslim relatives of persons 
in the United States.  While we hope there will be a peace agreement 
that will allow Bosnians to return home, we recognize that with little 
warning, this program may have to be expanded further, and we are 
willing to consider adjustments in processing guidelines to accommodate 
additional cases of special humanitarian concern.

Conclusion
The U.S. refugee program has enjoyed broad bipartisan support over the 
years.  There is a great American tradition of providing refuge to the 
persecuted.  This tradition goes back to the founding of our nation.  It 
links generations of Americans to one another.  It reinforces our 
democratic values.  Indeed, it is part of our national identity.  Under 
President Clinton's leadership, this noble tradition will continue.

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