The White House said Wednesday that it will ask Congress for an additional $100 million for resettling refugees, most of them from the Soviet Union, as well as for an increase in the overall number allowed into the country.
White House Press Secretary Marlin Fitzwater said the Bush Administration will make a request for a fiscal year 1989 supplemental appropriation soon, along with a request for an unspecified increase in the current admissions limit of 94,000 refugees allowed in the country.
“This ceiling increase is necessary to accommodate the steadily increasing flow of refugees from around the world,” he said.
He said the Administration will discuss the matter with Congress, then propose a new limit.
Jewish emigration from the Soviet Union to the United States has risen sharply in recent years, reflecting the policies of Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev to improve human rights and ease political restrictions on those wishing to leave the country.
In the last fiscal year, the United States admitted 20,421 refugees from the Soviet Union. The year before, 3,694 refugees trickled out of the Communist nation and reached the United States.
It is estimated that up to 50,000 Soviet citizens will seek refugee status in the United States this year. Fitzwater said 14,200 Soviet refugees have already emigrated this year, while another 26,000 remain backlogged or are en route.
Up to $240 Million
Fitzwater said the increase would boost funding for the refugee operations to $240 million.
Because of the steady increases in Soviet applicants, Secretary of State James A. Baker III told a House Appropriations subcommittee Tuesday that “we can’t make it” without the additional money.
A State Department spokesman said the government plans to spend $85 million of the extra money on Soviet applications, an estimated $11.5 million on refugees from Africa and $3.5 million on refugees from Southeast Asia.