For Poles allowed to exit, the West puts out few welcome mats
Warsaw — The Polish government's scheme to rid Poland of people it deems politically undesirable has run into a bottleneck: not enough visas from Western nations. At the same time, some Poles granted permission to emigrate have had second thoughts about leaving their homeland.
A sociologist who was interned for his activities in organizing study groups independently of official control was refused entry to Canada but accepted by both France and the United States. Married with two children, one of whom is ill , he is examining where health care will be cheaper before he decides where to go.
In another case, a physicist and Solidarity activist has been waiting five months for an answer for his application to Britain. Getting a passport was easy , he says, it's the visa that is the problem.
Since last March, when the authorities announced they would allow politically undesirable Poles to emigrate, exit permits have been issued to 4,510 ex-internees and their families, and to other political and Solidarity activists , government spokesman Jerzy Urban says.
Only 1,070 have left, he said. He blames Western bureaucratic delays for the shortfall. One-quarter of those who were granted permits have changed their minds.
The main beneficiaries of the policy, if that is the appropriate word, were those Solidarity activists interned without trial under martial law regulations imposed on Dec. 13, 1981.
Some 10,000 people passed through internment camps which were closed with the suspension of martial law last Dec. 31. Of these, 1,429 applied to go abroad. Permission was refused to 140; some 300 have already left.
Western immigration officials have been dismayed at the prospect of a massive influx of political refugees. Processing of applicants has been slow as governments have agonized over the number of Poles to take.
It seems Britain, for example, has not decided how many to accept. The United States, according to reliable sources, has taken 200 people and is winding down its program.
Western consular officials note that although exit procedures have been relatively smooth in Warsaw, exit applications have been more difficult to obtain in provincial towns because applicants are at the mercy of local police officials.
Of the 5,165 Poles who have applied to emigrate since last March, some 44 percent have passports in their pockets and are waiting for visas.
Not everyone will be able to go. Canada received 95 in 1982 and is planning on another 150 this year. Another 40 or so will be able to emigrate sponsored by individual families and social groups.
''We have 350 applications this year although we told people at the end of the line they didn't have much chance,'' an official says.