Salvadorans Seeking Asylum from Persecution

Regarding the article ``Salvadoran Refugees Protected,'' Nov. 19: The provision in the Immigration Act of 1990, which grants ``temporary protected status'' to Salvadorans in this country, is welcome news. However, Americans should also focus attention on our biased refugee policy that made this corrective legislation necessary. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees that ``everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution,'' - no matter their nationality or the political ideology they are fleeing. Testimony from Salvadorans confirm a legitimate fear of persecution in their homeland. Yet, according to INS statistics, only 2.3 percent of the cases of Salvadorans seeking political asylum were approved in 1989. Contrast this with an approval rate of 81.6 percent for Soviets, 65.8 percent for Ethiopians, and 57.4 percent for Iranians.

The State Department's Bureau of Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs offers an ``advisory opinion'' for each asylum applicant. This opinion is usually negative for Salvadorans and Guatemalans. The message to the potential asylum seeker is clear: your chances of being granted refugee status are pretty good if you are fleeing communism or another enemy of the US. This is not true if you are fleeing a country, no matter how repressive, that we consider a democracy.

It is time to be true to the American tradition as the land of refuge and abide by a refugee policy free of discrimination. We must also require of our government a foreign policy that prioritizes human rights and works to improve the conditions that cause these refugees to leave their homes. Stephanie Jones Eglinton, Washington

Nuclear deterrence The article ``Top GOP Senator Heightens Call for Special Session on Gulf,'' Nov. 23, quotes Sen. Richard Luger of Indiana who says that we must eliminate Saddam Hussein's ability to create nuclear weapons at some future date. The senator, however, is being short-sighted. Why should we fear a nation with a population of 17 million when we held the mighty USSR at bay for 40 years with nuclear deterrence? We would be foolhardy to initiate an offensive war. Time is on our side if all nations continue to avoid commerce with Iraq. Richard Zacher, Oceanside, Calif.

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