Refugee Act Reauthorization: Admissions and Resettlement Issues

REFUGEE ACT REAUTHORIZATION: ADMISSIONS AND RESETTLEMENT ISSUES ISSUE BRIEF NUMBER IB83060 AUTHOR: Joyce C. Vialet Education and Public Welfare Division THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE MAJOR ISSUES SYSTEM DATE ORIGINATED 03/11/83 DATE UPDATED 11/22/83 FSR A3DzTI3NAL INFORMATZON CALL 287-5700 1130 CRS- 1 ISSUE DEFINITION T h e authorization for Federal refugee resettlement assistance provided by the Refugee Act of 1 9 8 0 expires Sept. 3 0 , 1983. T h e 9 7 t h Congress had thorough extended this assistance authority for o n e y e a r only pending a more r e v i e w of the e n t i r e Refugee Act including i t s admissions provisions. Admissions issues t h a t have been o f interest to Congress i n c l u d e the r o l e of Congress and t h e executive branch i n establishing a n n u a l numerical l i m i t s o n refugee a d m i s s i o n s , a n d the interpretation o f the definition of refugee. A new block grant refugee assistance program proposed by the Reagan Administration was addressed i n hearings on the reauthorization of resettlement assistance; other continuing concerns a r e refugee dependency o n cash assistance and t h e geographic distriSution of refugees in the United states. H.R. 3 7 2 9 , t h e "Refugee Assistance Extension Act of 1983," authorizing the extension of refugee resettlement assistance through F Y 8 5 , was reported with amendments by the House Judiciary Committee on Oct. 5 , 1 9 8 3 (H.Rept. 98-404), a n d passed the House by a roll call vote of 300 to 99 on Nov. 1 4 , 1983. T h e refugee resettlement assistance program i s currently operating under rhe authority of P.L. 9 6 - 1 5 1 , the F Y 8 4 further continuing appropriations resolution. BACKGROUND AND POLICY ANALYSIS T h e Refugee Act o f 1980 (P.L. 96-212; 94 Stat. 102) w a s enacted Mar. 17, immigration l a w , the 1 9 8 0 , a s a major amendment to t h e basic U.S. The Immigration and Nationality A c t , a s amended (8 U.S.C. 1 1 0 1 , e t seq.). iiefugee Act has t w o basic purposes: (1) to provide a procedure for the a n n u a l admission of refugees into t h e Unitec? S t a t e s , and for their admission in emergency situations; and (2) to authorize Federal a s s i s t a n c e to r e s e t t l e refugees admitted to the UniteC States and to promote their self-sufficiency. The i n t e n t of the legislation was to end a n ad hoc approach to r e f u g e e admissions and resettlement that had characterized U.S. refugee policy since World War ;I. Refugee Admissions Under the Refugee Act's definition, a r e f u g e e i s a person who i s o u t s i d e his n a t i v e country or country of habitual residence and w h o f e a r s return to the country because of persection or a well-founded f e a r of persecution on account of r a c e , r e l i g i o n , nationality, membership in a partizuiar social group or political opinion. In certain circumstances designated by the ?resident after consultation with C o n g r e s s , persons within their native countries may qualify a s refugees if persecuted. Refugee status i s not available to persons who have been involved in the persecution of others. T h e Refugee Act establishes a procedure under which a n annual numerical and its allocation among r e f u g e e lirit on refugee admissions to t h e U.S. groups a r e established S y the President after consultation with Congress. The Act a i s o authorizes the President to designate a n additional number of refugee entries in emergency situations a f t e r consultation with Congress. The consultation process i s f o r m a l , and i t s specific procedures a r e s e t forth in the refugee statute. CRS- 2 IB83360 UPDATE-11/22/83 Primarily due to the refugee crisis i n Indochina and U.S. i n t e r e s t s in that region, this country has admitted l a r g e numbers of refugees s i n c e the Table 1 indicates admissions l e v e l s for enactment of t h e Refugee A C E . FY80-FY84 t h a t were established pcrsuant to the A c t . CRS- 3 TABLE 1. Asia Indochina Other U.S.S.R. E./ Europe Near East Lat. America Cuba Other Africa Total a/ c/ - 5/ - C/ e/ - * -. Ceilings on Refugee Admissions to the United States under Provisions of the Refugee Act of 1980 168,000 1,200 33,000 5,000 2 ,500 19,000 1,000 1 ,5 0 0 231,000 217,000 140,000 90,000 Presidential Determination No. 80-17, May 1 , 1980. Presidential Determination No. 80-28, Sept. 3 0 , 1980. Presidential Determination No. 82-1, Oct. 1 0 , 1981. Allocations for Asia, Eastern Europe, and Near East and Africa reflect changes approved by the Judiciary Committees in mid-1982. Presidential Determination No. 83-2, Oct. 1 1 , 1982. Presidential Determination No. 83-11, Oct. 7 , 1983. Includes Eastern Europe. 72,000 CRS- 4 T h e reductions i n refugee admissions since 1980 prrmarily result from reductions in Indochinese refugee admissions a s influenced by several factors. The situation in Indochina has become somewhat l e s s critical; t h e f l o w of refugees o u t of Vietnam, Laos and Kampuchea (Cambodia) has l o w e r e d , in part due to a deterrence policy adopted by ThailanC; and third country resettlement h a s resulted i n reduced refugee camp populations. T h e domestic impact of t h e large-scale Indochinese admissions program was a l s o a n important i n f l u e n c e on reductions in annual admissions. Other notable changes in admissions levels have been reductions for Latin America and t h e S o v i e t Union. I n the case of Latin America, reduced l e v e l s resulted from t h e virtual termination of a Cuban refugee program after the 1 9 8 0 boatlift from Cuba (see below); in the case of the Soviet Union, t h e reductions r e f l e c t t h e increasingly restrictive emigration policies of that nation. T h e F Y 8 4 r e f u g e e level proposed by the Administration and agreed to rhrough the Congressional consultation process i s 72,000. This number i s divided a s follows: Africa, 3 , 0 0 0 ; East A s i a , 50,000; Eastern Europe and t h e Soviet Union, 1 2 , 0 0 0 ; Latin America and the CariSbean, 1 , 0 0 0 ; and t h e Near East and South ~ s i a ,6 , 3 0 C . U.S. refugee admissions levels a r e ceilings, and actual arrivals of refugees to t h e U.S. from various parts of the world have been s o m e w h a t lower. In F Y 8 0 a r r i v a l s totalled a b o u t 207,000; in F Y 8 1 , arrivals were a b o u t 1 5 9 , 0 0 0 , including 1 3 1 , 0 0 0 Indochinese; and in F Y 8 2 arrivals were a b o u t 9 7 , 0 0 0 , 7 4 , 0 0 0 of which were Indochinese. According t o the recent S t a t e Department t e s t i m o n y , FY83 a r r i v a l s a r e expected to number between 6 0 , 0 0 0 a n d 62,000. In g e n e r a l , it i s the policy of the Reagan Administration to manage the refugee a d m i s s i o n s program at a s low a level a s possible to contain c o s t s a n 2 other domestic consequences of high admissions. In addition L O r e f u g e e s , the United States also accepted 1 5 3 , 0 0 0 CuSan anC ~ a i,,+ an; entrants for admission into this country in the aftermath cf t h e 1 9 8 0 Soatlift from Mariel harSor i n Cuba. "CuSan/Haitian Entrant (Status Pending)" i s a n administrative designatian, not a legal z e r m , and a p p l i e s to those Cubans and Haitians who arrived a t U.S. shores seeking asylum, or who were in exclusion o r deportation hearings, between Apr. 2 0 and Oct. 1 0 , 1980. These aliens a r e not_refugees and a r e currently residing in the United S t a t e s on a temporary basis under the Attorney G e n e r a l ' s parole authority pending the resolutio? of their immigration status. Refugee and Z n t r a n t Assistance A comprehensive Federal assistance program for refugees entering the Unlted States w a s , for che first t z m e , a u t h o r ~ z e d Sy tltle iIi of :he Refugee Act Act which e s t a b l ~ s h e d a new t ~ t l eI V of = h e I m m ~ g r a t l o na C C Nazlonaiity m (8 U.S.C. i 5 2 1 , et seq.). - 3 1 s aut9orlty expireC Sept. 3C, 1 9 8 2 , and was 3 C , 1983 by the Refugee A s s ~ s t a n c e reneweC by the 97th Congress zhrough Sep:. F.R. 3 7 2 9 , l e q ; s l a t r ~ n Fassed Sy = h e E o u s e , would ArnerBments (P.L. 9 1 - 3 5 ? ) . extend ;t through Sept. 3 0 , 1985. Srr.ce resetclement a s s ~ s t a n c e was not authorized for C3ban/Ba~c;an entrants under the terms of the Refugee A c t , Congress enacted new l e g ~ s l a t l o n m ,h;s leg;slat;o~, pcpularly rn late ;380 tc prcvrie sxcR ass1star.ce. CRS- 5 IB83060 ~ ~ D ~ ~ ~ - 1 1 / 2 2 / 8 referred to a s t h e Fasceli-Stone a m e n d m e n t , i s title V of t h e Refugee Education Assistance Act (P.L. 96-422; 94 Stat. 1809). Fascell-Stone d o e s n o t contain a n y authorization of appropriations, a n d presumably this assistance program could Continue indefinitely. However, since Fascell-Stone references Refugee Act programs, t h e continuation of entrant assistance continuation of refugee programs i s implicitly contingent upon the assistance. F Y 8 4 f u n d s for both Fascell-Stone and the r e f u g e e resettlement assistance program a r e appropriated a t t h e FY83 rate by P . L . 98-151, t h e F Y 8 4 f u r t h e r continuing appropriations resolution. i n budget authority w a s a v a i l a b l e for During F Y 8 3 over $600 million domestic refugee and entrant assistance (includes reception and placement see program descriptions grants administered by the State Department below). T h e bulk of the assistance budget (62%) i s devoted to cash and medical assistance for needy refugees and entrants during the f i r s t 3 years they a r e in the United States. A continuing high rate of welfare dependency by recent a r r i v a l s has been, consequently, a contributing factor t o the program costs, and i s an a r e a of particular concern. -- Several different types of Federal refugee resettlement a s s i s t a n c e a r e available under the authority of the Refugee Act and Fascell-Stone. Most of the programs a r e administered by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) which was established Sy the Refugee Act and 1 s part of t h e Social Security Administration a t the Department of Health and Human S e r v i c e s (HHS). T h e justification for Federal a s s i s t a n c e i s that most refugees a r e temporarily dependent a n d , regardless of country o f o r i g i n , should be provided some transitional help to become self-sufficient. Also, the Refugee Act recognizes a responsibility of the Federal Government to relieve S t a t e and local governments of the financial burdens that they incur from refugee a r r i v a l s which result from Federal policy decisions. R e f u g e e Act a u t h o r i t y is purposefully broad to a l l o w for a variety of assistance activities t o meet different needs. T h e following summarizes assistance currently being provlded refugees and entrants. 1. Reception ar!d ?lacement Grants T h e Department of State's Bureau of R e f u g e e ?rograms enters i n t o grant agreements with a number of private voluntary a g e n c i e s to o b t a i a U.S. sponsors for refugees resettling in the United States. Under t h e a g r e e m e n t s , t h e agencies a l s o must assure that they will provide certain essential c o r e services for the refugees upon their entry into this country, including housing and food for at least a month following their arrival. T h e reception a n d placement grants a r e made on a per capita basis according to t h e number of refugees resettled by the agency. T h e average per capita g r a n t for Indochinese refugees is $525; the average grant for Soviets a n d Eastern Europeans i s $395. 2. Cash and Medical Assistance T h e Offlce of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) r e l ~ b u r s e sS t a t e s for up to 100% of t h e costs of provldrng refugees with cash and medlcal assrscance durlcg t h e ~ rflrst 36 months zn the Unzted S t a t e s , a s well as for related y thelr S t a t e Azd to admlnlstracive cos=s. Refugees who otherwise q ~ a i ~ ffor Families with Dependent C h ~ l d r e n (AFDC) p r o g r a m , = h e Supplemental Security ;ncome for the Aged, 311nd and D ~ s a b ; e d 13Si) program, or Medical6 may the Federal refugee program r e c e ~ v ebenefits under these programs w - t h reambursing States 10C% for any non-Federal c o s t s , ~ n c l u d ~ n ga n y SSI CRS- 6 supplemental payments, for up to 3 0 months. Refugees who a r e not eligible for AFDC or SSI because of those programs' categorical requirements, but who a r e needy by State AFDC standards may receive special "refugee cash a s s i s t a n c e w with benefits a t the State's AFDC levels. Similarly, needy refugees ineligible for Medicaid may receive " r e f u g e e medical a s s i s c a n c e w with benefits similar to those provided Sy che Medicaid program, or to those otherwise available to needy citizens in the State. This assistance i s also totally reimaursed by the Federal Government. Under a regulation effective Apr. 1 , 1 9 8 2 , these special refugee c a s h a n d medical assistance benefits, which had been available for a full 36 months, became availaSle for 1 8 months only. After chose 1 8 months, if the r e f u g e e qualifies for a State or locally financed general assistance p r o g r a m , he or she could receive benefits under that program for a n additional 1 8 months that would be 100% federally reimbursed. T h e new rule eliminated the applicability of a $ 3 0 plus one-third income disregard in effect f o r t h e AFDC program t h a t also had applied for purposes of determicing need to establish eligibility for refugee cash and medical assistance. 3. Refugee Social Services ORR provldes f u n d s = o States for refugee soclal servlces of the types auzhorlzed by Tltle XX of the Soclal Securlty A c c , but w ~ t h particular emphasls o n EngllsE language and v o c a t ~ o n a l t r a r n ~ n g ,employment counseling, and case management. T h e s o c ~ a lservlces funds a r e deslgned to help refugees become s e l f - s u f f i c ~ e n t ,and avord long-term we;fare dependency. On Aug. 1, In FY83 1 9 8 3 , ORR lssued i t s f ~ n a lnotlce for the allocation of $ 8 0 mrllion f u n C s for refugee and entrant s o c ~ a ls e r v ~ c e s (Federai R e g ~ s t e r ,v. 48, Aug. 1 , 1983: 34809). Under the proposal, a p p r o x ~ m a t e l y $54 m ~ l l l o n would be allocated among the Stazes for refugee social s e r v ~ c e s under a f o r m u l a p r l m a r ~ i y based on the number of refugees ~n the 3.S. three years or l e s s ; $ 9 mlillon would be drstrlbuced on a per cap-ta baszs among t h o s e States p a r = ~ c r p a t ~ n ln g the Ccban/Saltian entract ~ r o g r a m for s o c ~ a l servlzes (see Selow); and the r e m a i n ~ c g f u n d s would S e ava-laPle p r ~ n a r l l y on a d ~ s c r e t l o n a r y Sasls to neet t3e nnmet neees of ear;;er refugees, for case management, and for other ?urposes. 4. Refugee Education Assistance T h e refugee program has provlded grants to sc3oo: d l s t r ~ c t s with large numbers of refugee children for educational servlces t o meet their c,,,anslt:onal needs. Althougk the assistance IS budgeted through O R R , the 3epartmect cf Educa:lon has been r e s p o n s ~ b l e for a d m ~ n i s t e r r n g the grants chrough a n interagency agreement. 5. Voluctary Agency Programs Since 1979, a voluntary agency a s s ~ s t a n c eprogram has Seen a v a i l a S l e for the resettlement of S ~ v l e t Zews and ocher n o c - I n d o c 3 ~ n e s e and ncn-CuEan refsgees. Popularly k c o w n a s the " s o v ~ e car.d ct%rr" program, c h ~ sasslstance rs a v a ~ l a b l eto certain vclcntary agencies ldnder contracc wrtl O Z R , and acts a s a n alternative to the ; r e v ~ o u s l y mentlsned cash and madlcal a s s l s t a n c e aT.e s o e ~ a ls e r v ~ c e sprograns. The progran prcvrees sp :o $ 1 , C 3 3 per refugee resettied to parzicrpatlng voluctary agenzres which 2s matched S y tr,e agency on a d0;lar-for-dollar basic. CRS- 7 IB83060 UPDATE-11/22/83 T h e Center f o r Disease Control administers a small g r a n t program to h e l p support S t a t e and l o c a l health a g e n c i e s which conduct health assessments and provide immediate followup care f o r refugees suffering from such c o n d i t i o n s a s skin infections, intestinal parasites, malnutrition and anemia. The Refugee Assistance Amendments of 1 9 8 2 specifically authorized such a g r a n t program, and earmarked $ 1 4 million for these purposes (see below). 7. Cuban and Haitian Entrant Domestic Assistance Under provisions o f t h e Fascell-Stone a m e n d m e n t (Sec 501(a) (111, Cuban and Haitian entrants a r e eligible f o r t h e same t y p e s of a s s i s t a n c e that a r e being made available f o r refugees. T h i s has included placement grants, cash and medical assistance a n e reimbursement for S t a t e administrative costs, social services funding, a n d education assistance. 8. Targeted Assistance D u r i n g P Y 8 2 , H H S announced a $35 million discretionary grant p r o g r a m , financed from previously unobligated f u n d s , to provide supplementary resources to a r e a s with high concentrations of Cuban and Haitian entrants. This program was designed to partially offset t h e impact of the c h a n g e i n cash and medical assistance policy. For F Y 8 3 , the program has been extended to i n c l u d e areas with large numbers of refugees. Notices of availability o f targeted a s s i s t a n c e for areas w i t h refugees a n d for a r e a s with entrants h a v e Seen issued in t h e Federal Register. (For r e f u g e e s , v. 4 8 , no. 1 0 8 , J u n e 3 , 1983: 24986; f o r entrants v. 4 8 , no. 1 4 5 , J u l y 2 7 , 1983: 34127.) Refugee Program Budget T h e Office of Refugee Resettiement (ORR) is t h e agency primarily r e s p o ~ s i S i e for domestic refugee assistance programs a n C entrant assistance. Actually, the ORR budget comprises only a b o u t half of t h e total estimated annual costs to t h e Federal Government relating to che movement Cf r e f u g e e s to the United S t a t e s and their resettlement here. the continuing r e s o l u t i o n T h e FY83 ORR budget level established under (P.L. 97-377) w a s $ 5 8 5 million, significantly lower than i t s high of $902 million in FY81. Reductions w e r e possible because of t h e lower number of the entrant p o p u l a t ~ o n , and refugee a r r i v a l s , the diminishing impact of changes i n cash and medical a s s i s t a n c e policies that have effectively shrunk the number of refugees and entrants eligible for assistance. A l s o , the F Y 8 1 budget included $157 million f o r t h e processing and i n i t i a i c a r e of e n t r a n t s , a n account that h a s since been reduced considerably, and transferred to t h e Department of Justice. T a b l e 2 summarizes ORRIS budget authority for allocation of fundlng among various program areas. FY83 including the ZRS- 8 T A B L E 2. O f f i c e o f R e f u g e e R e s e t t l e m e n t Fiscal Year 1983 Budget Authority (in m i l l i o n o f d o l l a r s ) Cash and medical assistance, State administration Social services Targeted assistance (General) (Education grants for entrants) Voluntary agency grants Federal administration Preventive health Refugee education grants Total $585.0 -------Source: U.S. D e p a r t m e n t of H e a l t h a n d H u m a n S e r v i c e s , Office of Refugee Resettlement. a/ - HBS had proposed the transfer of $7 m l l l ~ o nfrom t h ~ sa c c o u n t o n g r o u n d s t h a t l t w o u l d n o t b e n e e d e d : $6.5 m r ; l ~ o n w o u l d h a v e b e e n m a d e available t o o t h e r BBS a g e n c ~ e sa n 2 $0.5 m r l i l o n t o O R R ' s " F e d e r a l a d m ~ n l s t r a t l o n "a c c o u n t . Both the House and Senate Approprratlons Commrttees drsapproved the transfer i n therr reports accompanying H.R. 3 0 6 9 , t h e F Y 9 3 s u p p l e m e n t a l The a p p r o p r l a t l o n s 5 1 1 1 , P.L. 9 8 - 6 3 . committees ~ n d ~ c a r etdh a t a n y e x c e s s f u n d s a v a l i a b l e from tae voluntary agency account snould be rransferred to "targeted a s s ~ s t a n c e . " a F o r F Y 8 4 , t h e R e a g a n A d m l n ~ s t r a t ~ o rne q u e s t e d $485.3 m ~ l l l o n f o r O R R , T h e F Y 8 4 fundlng would be avallaSle f o r 1 7 % reduction f r o m t h e F Y 8 3 budqet. The refugee program ls currently operating under o b l i g a t l c n t h r o u g h F"5. t h e f u r t t e r c o n t l n u ~ n gr e s o l u r i o n f o r F Y 8 4 s ~ g n e Z t h e t e r m s o f ? . L . 38-15:, rn he f 3 r t h e r c o n z l n u ~ n g resolaclor! by t h e ? r e s l d e c t o n Nov. i 4 , 1983. provides f o r t h e c ~ e r a t i o ns f t h e p r o g r a m a t t h e F Y 3 3 r a t e z h r c u g h H Y S 4 . T h e F Y 8 4 b u e g e t req-lest ~ n c l u d e d a p r o p o s a l f o r a $270 m l l l l c n b l o c k cjranz program rccegratlng funding for refugee cash and medlcal assrstance (for r e f u q e e s o n l y , a n d c n i y ? ~ rt h o s e r e f u g e e s n o t s t h e r w l s e q u a i i f y r n g f o r A F 3 C , S S I , o r M e C L c a i C ) , s o c ~ a ls e r v ~ l e s ,z a r g e t e d assistance 2 n d e d o e a t l o n gra>cs CRS- 9 IB83060 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ - 1 1 / 2 2 into a s i n g l e grant to each State. T h e funding for this program would be a $ 8 4 million decrease from the FY83 budget for the same activities. According to the administration, the reductions a r e possible because of fewer anticipated refugee a r r i v a l s (the request i s based o n 8 2 , 0 0 0 refugee entries in F Y 8 4 1 , further reductions i n the population eligible f o r assistance, and the "carry over c a p a c i t y n of excess funding for social services and targeted assistance that had been provided over the President's budget i n FY83. P.L. 98-151 Specifically prohibits the distribution of f u n d s made a v a i l a b l e under it for refugee or entrant assistance through any administratively proposed block g r a n t or per capita grant program. T h e House-passed H.R. 3 7 2 9 contains a similar prohibition. Other domestic assistance provided zo refugees pursuant to t h e Refugee Act are reception and placement grants. During F Y 8 3 , the S u d g e t f o r this activity w a s $47.8 million; t h e budget request for F Y 8 4 was $33.3 million. Issues Before the 9 8 t h Congress T h e impact of recent refugee arrivals on the United States has led some to question o u r admissions a n d assistance policies and t h e provisions of the Refugee Act under which t3ey a r e formulated. At t h e end of t h e 9 7 t h C o n g r e s s , the expiring authority for refugee resettlement assistance was pending a closer examination of renewed f o r one year only -- through FY83 both assistance and admissions issues by the 98th Congress. Legislation providing a simple 3-year program reauthorizat.ion was introduced by Representative Romano Kazzoli a s H.R. 3195 on J u n e 2 , 1983. Mr. Mazzoli, who is chairman of the House Subcommittee on Immigration, R e f u g e e s , and International L a w , stated that the legislation was a vehicle f o r hearings and that his f i n a l view on the reauthorization would be developed after t h e hearings. Rep. Mazzoli subsequently introduced H.R. 3729, a clean bill resulting from his subcommittee's markup of H.R. 3195. T h i s legislation would reauthorize the refugee assistance program f o r two y e a r s , with several amendments. The AdministratLon supports a 3-year reauthorization with n o amendments. H.R. 3729 was reported with amendments by the full House Judiciary Committee o n Oct. 5 , 1 9 8 3 , and passed by the House unamended o n Hov. 1 4 , 1 9 8 3 by a vote of 300-99. -- D u e to concerns that economic migrants rather than bona f i d e politicai refugees might enter che United States under the refugee admissions p r o g r a m , the definition of refugee has developed into an i m p o r t a n t issue. 1t was explored by the House and Senate Judiciary Committees during consideration of the reauthorization of the Refugee Act this Congress. T h e Refugee Act definition does not include any reference to t h e a l i e n ' s initial motive for f l i g h t from his native country, but is confined to a persons's being outside his native country and fearing return because of persecution. At issue i s whether persons who fled their native countries primarily for economic reasons but w h o have reason to f e a r return because of persecution for the a c t of leaving a r e eligible for refugee status. intendeC When t h e U.S. definition of refugee was written i n 1 9 8 0 , it was to conform to the UniteC Nations' definition of the term. A t that t i m e , the U N definition was interpreted tc include a s a refugee a n y person outside his country of nationaiity and fearing returc to his country because of perseCQti0n on account of r a c e , r e l ~ g i z c , nationaiity, memSership in a particular social group or politicai c p i n i o ~ . Since that time, some have questioned this interpretaticn of the 3 N definition a s well a s the Z.S. d e f i n i c l o n , a r g u i n g t h a t p e r s o n s l e a v i n g t h e i r countries f o r p u r e l y economic reasons are not, but should be, clearly excluded from eligibility for refugee s t a t u s , e v e n r f t h e y h a v e r e a s o n to f e a r r e t u r n t o t h e i r c o u n t r i e s . Some have suggested an amendment to the Refuqee Act to narrow the d e f i n i t i o n of r e f u g e e t o s p e c i f y t h a t p e r s o n s m i g r a t i n g f o r e c o n o m i c r e a s o n s broaden che a r e i n e l i g i S l e f o r r e f u g e e status. I n contrast, o t h e r s w o u l d U.S. d e f i n i z i o n t o e x t e n d r e f u g e e s t a t u s t o p e r s o n s f o r c e d t o l e a v e t h e i r country during civil war or foreign occupation. However, most appear to s u p p o r t t h e r e t e n t i o n o f t h e c u r r e n t l a n g u a g e o f t h e U.S. definition, b e l i e v i n g t h a t i t c o n f o r m s t o t h e U.N. definition and i s sufficient to e x c l u d e s o - c a l l e d e c o n o m i c m i g r a n t s f r o m r e f u g e e status. Supporters of the existing language argue that flexibility concerning economic motivations is necessary because economics and politics are often intertwined; and that w e d o not want to permanently exclude some persons from eligibility for refugee s t a t u s w h o m a y h a v e l e g i t i m a t e c l a i m s t o s u c h status. In hearings this Congress on the definition of "refugee," Administration officials supported t h e existing statutory language. The Administration believes that a change i s not Warranted in the definition because of the confusion that has arisen c v e r i t s application, and that any alteration would u n c o u c l e t h e U.S. H.R. 3 7 2 9 , t h e b i l l r e p o r t e d b y t h e H o u s e d e f i n i t i o n f r o m t h a t o f t h e U.N. J u d i c i a r y C o m m i t r e e a n d p a s s e d by t h e H o u s e , w o u i e n o t m a k e a n y c h a n g e s i n the definition. C l o s e l y r e l a t e d t o c h e a S o v e i s s u e h a s b e e n :he question of presumptive eligibility for refugee status applied t o aliens fleeing certain nations. U n t i l t h e f a l l o f 1 9 8 1 , t h e U.S. f o l l o w e d a p o l i c y o f p r e s u m p t i v e r e f u g e e eligijility for persons fleeing Vietnam, Laos, and Kampuchea. This became controversial when the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) identified a number of emigres from these countries as economic migrants and deferred their approval for refugee status. In accord with a legal opinion i s s u e d S y t h e O f f i c e o f L e g a l C o u n s e l (OLC) a t t h e D e p a r t m e n t o f J u s t i c e , t h e Attorney General concluded that case-by-case determinations of Indochinese e l i g i b i l i t y f o r r e f u g e e s t a t u s w e r e a p p r o p r i a t e , a c C ir.itiaced p r z c e s s i n g o n %owever, che C L C opinion Ci5 not preclude the use of t h i s b a s i s i7. F-2. presumptive e l i g i b i l i ty i n t h e f y z z r e i n c e r t a i n si:uations such as emergencies. Afzer case-Sy-case prccessrng was lnltlated, ccntroversy developed over INS t h e n u m S e r o f C ~ s a p p r o v a l s of r e f u g e e a p p l l c a t l o n s f r o m Cambodians S y f ~ e l d personnel ;n Thailand. Some believed t3az INS declslons were u n r e a s o n a b l y r e s t r ~ c t l v ea n d a r S l t r a r y c o c c e r n l n g C a m D o C l a n e m l g r e s , a n d t h a t a n u m b e r of b o n a f l e e r e f c g e e s w h o n e t U.S. g u ~ d e l l n e s for a d m z s s ~ o n were Selng turned away. In r e s p o n s e , I N S s e n t a t e a m f r o m i h e U n ~ t e d S t a t e s t o 825 T h a l l a n d t o review c a s e s t h a t nad b e e n r e z e c t e d a n d a S o ~ t 1 8 0 o u t of cases that were revlewed were overcurnee. I n May 1983, P r e s i d e n t R e a g a n i s s u e d a C l r e c t l v e t e t n e A t t o r n e y General: (1) t o Z e t e r m r n e w h e t h e r c e r t a i n c a t e g c r l e s of p e r s o n s s h a r e common character:st;cs rdentrfyrn; t h e m a s t a r g e t s o f persecution; a n d (2) tz lr,prcve c a s e C e c ~ s i o n n o n ~ t o r l n g s y s t e m s . I N S Csmnissloner Alan Nelson t e s t ~ f ~ etdh a t t h e D ~ r e c t ~ v ea c 5 = h e r e s u l t ~ ~ gI N S g ' l ~ d e ; l ~ e s a r e no: ~ n c o n s l s t e n t w ~ t ht 3 e pr:nc~ple ?f case-by-case 3 r 3 c e s s r r 7 W ~ L C ? . will 3 0 m a ~ n t a l n e d 19 t h e ~ m p l e m e r i t a t l z n z i t h e C l r e c t i v e . 3y X e f c ~ e er e s e t t l e n e ~ t ~ s s u e sh a v e beer. r e c e l v r c g c o n s ~ C e r a S l e atten:;on C c n q r e s s s;zce t h e Ftefugee A c t w a s ecaztee. T n e p r - p o s a l of t k e Z e a g a n A Z a l n : s = r a z 1 ~ ~ = a zcnsol~da:? fu?.C~ng f s r s ~ c er s f 2 q e e ass;staEce ac:lv~=;es i n t o a block g r a n t has been a focus of concern during consideration of the reauthorizing legislation t h i s year. congressional As previously mentioned, the Administration proposed the block grant program, which it has designated the "per capita grant program," i n i t s 1 9 8 4 budget request for ORR. The program would replace separate f u n d i n g currently provided States f o r refugee cash assistance and refugee medical assistance, social services, targeted assistance, and educational assistance f o r refugee children. T h e Administration believes that the proposal will g i v e States maximum flexibility to direct resources s o that refugees may obtain self-sufficiency a s soon a s possible, and to respond t o t h e needs of refugees according t o l o c a l conditions. T h e Administration proposed to initiate t h e block grant program by regulation. A n o t i c e of proposed rule-making to implement the consolidated g r a n t program was published i n the Federal Register on Sept. 14 (pp. 41187-41199), with public comments due by Oct. 3 1 , 1983. In hearings before the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, there was virtually no s u p p o r t for the Administration's per capita g r a n t program. Witnesses included representatives of the National Governors Association, the National Association of Countries and voluntary a g e n c i e s , a m o n g others. The major argument against the proposal is that States would have to bear the f u l l ccst of any assistance exceeding the block g r a n t allocation. T h i s would represent a shift i n responsibility from the Federal Government to S t a t e a n d l o c a l governments because the Federal Government currently provides 1 0 0 % of the funding f o r refugee cash assistance and refugee medical a s s i s t a n c e o n a n unlimited basis. Other arguments presented a g a i n s t the proposal were that t h e reallocation of resources f o r refugees i n various States might encourage secondary migration; that there may be insufficient funding f o r unexpected migrations of refugees into a State; and that there would b e disruptive Competition a m o n g S t a t e s , localities, VOLAGS, and private service providers In. s u m m a r y , witnesses argued for stability in the f o r lirited funds. .existing refugee assistance program. T h e House-passed H.R. 3 7 2 9 woule prohibit tne initiation of a block grant structure for the refugee assistance program. T h e refugee assistance program is currently operating under the appropriations authority of P.L. 98-151, the cY84 further continuing r e ~ ~ l ~ t i owhich n, a l s o prohibits the use of funds appropriated under i t " t o implement a n y administratively propcsed block g r a n t , per capita g r a n t , or similar C O n S ~ l i d a t i O nof the Refugee Resettlement Program." Other resettlement issues that have been continuing concerns a r e the dependency of refugees on cash assistance and the geographic distribution of refugees in the United States. O R 2 studies indicate that 54% of Indochinese refugees w h o h a v e been in t h e United States three years or l e s s a r e dependent on cash assistance. This dependency r a t e may be in part a function of the l a r g e number o f relatively uneducated and unskilled Indochinese who have been arriving i n t h e Unitee S t a t e s since 1 9 7 9 ; it i s also influeEced by an extremely high dependency r a t e there is the largest refugee population. i n California -- 8 3 % -- where Nevertheless, most a g r e e that the rate is unacceptably high. A general concern is thaz the refngee resettlement program i s Suilding a welfare mentality in otherwise capable and indusrrious ?eoples, and i s actually hampering their progress towares self-sufficiency. T h e Refugee Asszstance Amendments made certaln changes e l ~ g z 3 ~ l : t y o i refugees for casr! ass~stance: They repea;ed to r e s t r ~ c t the a 60-day delay z n the work registration requirement f o r refugees receiving cash assistance. They required refugees receiving such assistance to participate i n language and work training i f available and appropriate; they prohibited cash assistance for full-time students i n higher education programs; and they terminated cash and medical assistance to refugees refnsing a n apprcpriate employment offer. T h e 1 9 8 2 legislatron also requires voluntary a g e n c i e s t o report to local welfare agencies when a refugee under their supervision receives a job o f f e r , and requires welfare agencies to notify the voluntary agency when a refugee appiies for cash assistance. Some h a v e suggested that refugee resettlement assistance be removed from the public welfare system altogether, and that some alternative form of interim support be provided new r e f u g e e arrivals. Others suggest adoption a case-management approach to refugee resettlement, such a s has Seen used f o r the Soviec Jewish refugees, to reduce reliance on cash and medical assistance. Another suggestion h a s been to separate eligibility for medical assistance from that f o r cash assistance, because some believe t h a t t h i s would encourage refugees to take Low-paying jobs that they may be refusing because those jobs d o not p r o v i d e 1- h e a l t h benefits. In r e s p o n s e , H.R. 3729 would make several major changes i n cash and medical assistance available to refugees. An amendment adopted by t h e subcommittee and scbsequently deleted during f u l l Judiciary Committee markup would have prohibited refugees from receiving a n y federally funded cash a s s i s t a n c e , including AFDC and refugee The cash assistance, during their first 90 days in the United States. amendment would a l s o have authorized States to disqualify refugees from a State or locally funded general assistance program. There could have been exception t o the prohibition i n c a s e s of extreme hardship. Several concerns were apparent during t h e subcommittee and committee consideration of this proposal. One was whether sufficient alternative support would be available to n e w refugee arrivals from the sponsoring voluntary agencies. Another was that some States would be precluded by their own constitutions from denying needy refugees cash benefits, and t h a t these States would not S e reimbursed for the assistance they would be forced to provide. F i n a l i y , there were queszion aSoct the equity cf denying cash assisrance to unemployable refugees. In place of the 93-day ?rohibition, amendments were adopted during full Committee markup requiring the Secretary of H E S to develop and implement a l = S r > a t i v e S to cash assistance to encourage refugee self-sufficiency; and providing for specific legal and financial obligations for refugees during with the their first 90 d a y s i n the United States i n contracts negotiated Voluntary agencies. It was noted during the Committee debate that the latter amendment would require additional funding. Another amendment proposed in H.R. 3729 would reqnire the Director of 3 R 2 , to the extent of available appropriations, to provide medical assistance rc all refugees during their frrst year after entry i n t o the United States. in the subcommittee there was concern that this presumptive eligibility for medical assistance woulC have a d v e r s e political consequences becaLse refugees WOald be entitled to benefits that citizens coulC not receive. T h e c o n c e n t r a t ~ o n of refugees and entrants ;n only a irmrted number of U.S. communrtres has a l s o Seen an ~ s s u e . Bver a thrrd of 6 4 0 , 0 0 0 Indochrnese whc nave resetrled here res;de r z C a l ~ f o r n r a . Over rwo-thirds of the 1 5 3 , 0 3 C Mramr are2. Cuban a n d Zaltlar. entrants live ~n F l o r ~ c i a ,e s ~ e c ~ a l l yin :he These concentratrcns have reszlted from l n r t ~ a lplacement decrsrons chat have stressed f a m ~ l yre+dc~frcat:on, =fie availa3ri:ty of sponsors rn 9 n l y some areas, arid the seconSary mrgratlon of r e f l ~ g e e s 20 areas wnere rhere a r e f a m ~ l y ,f r ~ e n C sor a n estaS;lsheC ethnrc c o m m u ~ r t y . T h e clustering of refugees can be beneficial to a r e f u g e e ' s adjustment to l i f e i n the United States because of t h e support of h i s ethnic group. However, some a r e a s have such large r e f u g e e populations that they have apparently overwhelmed community resources. Such areas point o u t that i n spite of Federal assistance, they incur tremendous c o s t s i n terms of providing housing, education, health c a r e , and a variety of community services to the refugee population. Such situations c a n a l s o ill-serve refugees who must compete among themselves a n d with citizens for limited jobs and benefits. S o m e State a n d l o c a l governments argued f o r impact-aid t y p e of F e d e r a l assistance to provide them with additional reimbursements f o r community c o s t s incurred from l a r g e refugee populations. O t h e r s a r e concerned that s u c h a program would open a "Pandora's B o x w and would be difficult t o monitor. The 1 9 8 2 Refugee Assistance Amendments required t h e Director of ORR to study t h e feasibility of various impact aid alternatives and report t o t h e Congress by 1983. Also, Jan. 1, 1983. T h i s report was submitted t o Congress o n May 3 , t h e targeted assistance program initiated by the Administration i n F Y 8 2 i s in some respects a response to such a proposition. H.R. 3 7 2 9 would specifically authorize targeted assistance f o r refugees a n d provide a n authorization of $ 5 0 million for the program. T h e 1 9 8 2 Refugee Assistance Amendments required ORR to implement a specific policy to place some new refugee a r r i v a l s without family ties a w a y from areas with high impact. ORR i s currently operating under a placement policy i t developed i n 1982. Because family reunification w i l l continue to be stressed in placements, most believe t h a t t h e n e w policy will have l i m i t e d results. Kedical screening of Indochinese refugees a n d follow u p c a r e i n the United After a n investigation it conducted for the States have a l s o been a concern. House Judiciary Committee, t h e General Accounting Office (GAO) concludes t h a t overseas medical screening of Souteast Asian refugees i s inadequate. GAO recommended against the existing policy t o admit these refugees With exciudaale medical conditions such a s t u b e r c a l o s i s , particularly because of the difficulties and costs of providing f o l l o w u p medical c a r e i n the United States. 3 n Dec. 1 , 1982, the United S c a t e s instituted n e w procedures regarding the medical screening of Indochinese refugees. After that d a t e , a l l Indochinese o v e r a g e one will receive x-ray examinations, and any with to active noninfectious tuberculosis must complete their TB treatment prior entry into the U.S. T h e 1 9 8 2 Xefugee Assistance Amendments required the voluntary agencles to notify health a g e n c i e s w3en refugees will r e q u i r e followup health care. The legislation a l s o authorized $ 1 4 million for health screening a c t i v l t ~ e s S y State and local governments. In i t s F P 8 4 budget the Administration proposed a n e w $2.9 million program to provlde followup care f o r refugees with tuberculosis. LEGISLATION P.L. 98-151, E.J.Res. 413 Purtker Continuing Appropriations, FY84. Includes FY84 a p p r o p r l a t ~ o n a t f o r ass-stance tc the current rate :or refugee resectleF.ent assistance 2 x 2 noiz Ee Cuban and Haltian entrants, wlt9 the p r o v ~ s l o n that the f u n d s may dlscribnted rhrough block cr per capita grants. Passed House on Nov. 10 and Senate on Nov. 1 1 , 1983; House and Senate agreed to conference report ( H - R e p t . 98-540) and amendments o n Nov. 1 2 ; signed by the President on Nov. 1 4 , 1983. H.R. 3729 (Mazzoli et 2.1.) R e f u g e e Assistance Extension Act of 1983. Reauthorizes refugee assistance $ 1 0 0 million for programs through F Y 8 5 at the following annual levels: social Services; $ 1 4 million for health screening activities; $ 5 0 million for targeted assistance; and such sums a s a r e necessary for other refugee assistance programs. Requires Secretary of HHS to develop and implement alternatives to refugee cash assistance. Provides for specific l e g a l and financial obligations for refugees during first 9 0 days i n voluntary agency contracts. Authorizes appropriations for partial reimbursement of S t a t e s and counties for certain incarcerated Cuban entrants. Provides for the termination of cash assistance for refugees refusing appropriate job o f f e r s , refusing to participate in a sociai service or targeted assistance program, o r refusing to be interviewed for a job. To the extent of a v a i l a b l e appropriations, provides that medical assistance be made a v a i l a b l e to refugees for t h e first year they are in the United States. P r o h i S i = s the 3istriSusion of refugee assistance in block grants. Authorizes targeted assistance to a r e a s with high concentrations of refugees. R e q u i r e s the acnually, General Accounting Office to aocicor reception and placement gran:s and sets forth certain conditions for the g r a n = s . Zstablishes the O f f i c e of Refagee Resettlement in the Office of the Secretary a t the D e p a r t m e n t of Health and Human Services. Provides for the administration of refugee edacation assistance by the Department of Education. Introduced Aug. 1, the 1 9 8 3 ; referred to the Committee o n t h e Judiciary. Ordered reporzed b y Committee o n t h e Judiciary Sept. 2 7 , 1983. Reported 3ct. 5, 1983 (H.Rept. 98-404). Passed House without amendment o n Yov. 14, 1 9 8 3 by a vote of 300 to 99. U.S. .. o n s e . C o n m ~ t t e eon Foreign Affalrs. Congress. ~ Domest~c and forelgn policy ~ r n ~ l i c a t ~ oof n s U . S . rmnzgrazlcn and refugee resetzlement psl-cy. B e a r l ~ g sa n C s ~ a f freports, Washington, U.S. Govt. P r ~ n t .Off., 1982. 97th Congress. 2 8 7 p. Hearings held Oct. 5 , 1 9 8 1 ; ?far. 1 5 , 1982. 7, U S . Congress. House. Committee on Foreign Affarrs. SuScommittee on Internatlznai Operazlons. Refugee Act of 1979. Hearings, 96th Congress, 1st s e s s ~ o no n H.R. 2815. Sept. 19 and 2 5 , 1979. W a s h i n g t o n , U.S. Sovt. ? r ~ n t . Cff., 1279. 9 9 p. C.S. Csngress. House. Cornmlttee on the J u d l c ~ a r y . Refugee Acz of 1979. Z e a r - n g s , 36th C o n g r e s s , ;s= s e s s l o n , WashlngEon, on H.2. 2815. Yay 3 , L C , ; 5 , 2 3 - 2 4 , ;9-5. .,.S. . Govt. Prlnt. Z f f . , 197s. 4 5 3 z . "SerraL yo. 10" ----- R e f u g e e a e n l s s ~ o zproposal. 1st sesslon. Seat. 2 9 , 1931. 113 3 . Prir.5. ~ f f . ,IS$:. H e a r ~ n g ,5;tn c o n g r e s s , WasR:ngtoc, Y.s. ~ 3 v t . ----U.S. Refugee Admissions and Resettlement Program--Fiscal Year 1981. Hearing, 96th Congress, 2 6 session. Sept. 2 4 , 1980. Washington, U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1980. 252 p. Congress. House. Committee on the Judiciary. Subcommittee Immigration, Refugees and International Law. Caribbean migration. Hearings, 96th Congress, 2d session. May 1 3 , June 4, 1 7 , 1980. Washington, U.S. Washington, U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1980. 313 p. ------------- ----- ----- Proposed regulation changes for refugee assistance. Hearings, 97th Congress, 2d session. Feb. 9 , 1982. Washington, U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1983. 125 p. Reauthorization of Refugee Act of 1980. Hearings, 97th Congress, 2d session, on H.R. 5879. Apr. 2 2 and 2 8 , 1982. 3 7 9 p. Washington, U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1982. "Serial no. 38" Refugee Act of 1980 amendment. Hearing, 97th Congress, 1st Session on H.R. 2142. Mar. 2 4 , 1981. Washington, U.S. Govt. Print. 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