State Department's Position On Refugee Admissions

The opinion-page article, "Immigration Reform," March 7, asserts that the Immigration in the National Interest Act, HR 2202, would establish a refugee admissions target of 50,000 "in accordance with the recommendations of the State Department." This does not accurately reflect the Department of State's position.

We believe that this would restrict the administration's flexibility to respond effectively to refugee crises as they develop, which should be the essence of our refugees program.

The State Department does not recommend a permanent fixed ceiling of 50,000 (or any other number) admissions for any fiscal year. Under current world conditions, we believe that the trend for refugee admission numbers is moving downward as our large cold-war programs are phased out.

However, uncertainties surrounding the magnitude of resettlement needs for other refugee groups make it impossible to project today what the program requirements will be in future years.

Phyllis E. Oakley

Assistant Secretary of State

Washington

Your letters are welcome. For publication they must be signed and include your address and telephone number. Only a selection can be published and none acknowledged. Letters should be addressed to "Readers Write" and sent by mail to One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, by fax to 617-450-2317, or by Internet e-mail (200 words maximum) to OPED@RACHEL.CSPS.COM.

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