Closing doors on refugees? Look at the figures

Regarding "Clinton Closes Door on Refugees" (Nov. 4), here is some additional information which might prove useful to balance the views expressed in this article.

"America," the author states, "is a nation of character that should abide by its moral commitment to help those fleeing oppression." The secretary of state and the entire department agree completely and - as the figures cited illustrate - act accordingly.

The US resettles more refugees each year than are resettled in all other countries of the world combined. This has been the case for years, including during the current administration. The 78,000 refugees we intend to resettle here in fiscal year1999 will continue our global leadership in this vital humanitarian endeavor.

US law requires the ceiling for refugee admissions to be set annually and to reflect the global refugee situation and resettlement need. The president authorizes the ceiling after the administration consults with nongovernmental organizations, state and local governments, and committees of Congress. Since the 1980 law was passed, annual refugee admissions have ranged from as high as 207,000 in 1980, reflecting the Vietnamese boat people crisis, to a low of 61,000 in 1983. Through most of the 1980s admissions averaged 65,000.

In 1993, when the current administration took office, we were still resettling large numbers of religious minorities from the former Soviet Union that had long been denied the opportunity to reunite with family members in the US. When added to the then-large program for Indochinese resettlement, both groups accounted for 100,000 of the 120,000 resettled here in 1993. In FY 1999, only some 40 percent of the 78,000 authorized refugee admissions are likely to come from these groups, reflecting smaller pools of eligible applicants and changed circumstances in these regions of the world.

One additional note: While the admission ceiling in FY 1998 was 83,000 refugees, the budget provided funds to bring in only 75,000. Through savings on processing and transportation costs, we resettled some 2,000 more. That means almost 7,000 more refugees resettled here than in FY 1997.

Julia V. Taft


Assistant secretary of state for population, refugees, and migration

Capping athletes' salaries

Regarding "Sports Salaries Soar; Impact on Fans Grows" (Nov. 13), which deals with soaring sports salaries and huge disparities in incomes in general: It seems the solution would simply be to once again increase the maximum tax rates on excessive profits or incomes and thereby either decrease the incentive of greed or recycle some of the wealth. Oh, I forgot the reason it won't work - they would just take their ball and go home.

Mark Pasternak

North Bend, Ore.

The term 'pro-life'

I am writing in regard to recent articles and the cartoon (Nov. 3) that pitted "pro-life" against "pro-choice." I think the "pro-life" label is a poor selection of terms and ought to be changed to "anti-abortion."

I have known women who had abortions in their younger years and went on to become fine, dedicated, nurturing mothers. They most definitely fall into the category of "pro-life."

Also, human life is encroaching upon and destroying other life forms on earth at an alarming rate. To me, being "pro-life" means being in favor of strict environmental controls on our destructive way of life, as well as being committed to the worldwide education of women and to population control.

Kate Bradley

Issaquah, Wash.

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