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October 09, 1992 - Image 128

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1992-10-09

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Q45

U.S. Refugee Funding
Is Likely To Be Cut

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Washington (JTA) — Con-
gress is in the process of set-
ting next year's funding
level for refugee reset-
tlement programs in this
country, and the outlook is
grim.
Indeed, Jewish groups
working on behalf of refu-
gees from the former Soviet
Union and other countries
say that as the federal
budget tightens and the so-
cial climate becomes in-
creasingly hostile to for-
eigners, the future of the
programs hangs in the bal-
ance.
They say the fiscal
pressures could shift the
burden of resettling Jewish
refugees to already-strapped
local Jewish federations and,
in the worst case, could
result in a reduction in the
number of refugees admitted
to the United States.
That, they say, would
violate the program's
guiding principle that reset-
tlement should be based on
humanitarian and not fi-
nancial considerations.
Funding cuts could also
trigger a major restructur-
ing of the refugee reset-
tlement program by elim-
inating the role of the states
in providing Medicaid and
federal cash assistance,
which would be funneled
directly to voluntary agen-
cies.
The Council of Jewish
Federations supports this
plan, arguing that it would
stretch fewer dollars further.
Both the Senate and House
of Representatives have
passed labor/health and
human services appropria-
tions bills for fiscal 1993
with money in them for
refugee resettlement that is
below the current funding
level of $410 million.
That money resettled
131,000 refugees this fiscal
year, of which 61,000 were
from the former Soviet
Union. Of these, roughly
52,000 were Jews. In the
coming year, 122,000 refu-
gees are tentatively slated to
be admitted, of whom 40,000
are expected to be Jews.
A House and Senate con-
ference committee is ex-
pected to begin crafting a
compromise next week bet-
ween the House bill, which
calls for a $322 million ap-
propriation, and the $405
million called for in the
Senate's.
While either appropriation
level would force some cut-
backs in resettlement pro-

grams, they are a big and
welcome leap from the Bush
administration budget sub_
mitted earlier this year,
which refugee advocates
fought fiercely.
The administration ha,i
appropriated $227 million
for resettlement, a 45 pen'
cent cut in the current fun-,
ding, which is administered
through the Department of
Health and Human Service's
Office of Refugee Reset
tlement.
"A 45 percent cut is like
killing the program," said
Mark Talisman, director of
the Washington Action Of
of the Council of Jewish
Federations.
"We waited 15 to 20 years
for the unfolding of events"
in the former Soviet Union,
he said. "And at the very
moment we need the part-
nership" with the federal
government, "to close it up
is obscene."
Martin Wenick, executive
vice president of HIAS, the
Hebrew Immigrant Aid

The Senate voted
$405 million, the
House $322
million. The Bush
administration
wanted a 45
percent cut.

Society, agreed such a cut
would have a dramatic im- -
pact.
"The services hitherto
available (to provide) oppor- -
tunities for people to estab-
lish themselves as self- c:
supporting members of
society won't be there," he- -
said. And in the long run,
"that leaves them more
dependent on the system."
Mark Handelman, ex-
ecutive vice president of
New York Association for
New Americans, or
NYANA, the largest Jewish
resettlement agency in the
country, said in this
scenario, Jewish federations
would be forced to cut back
sharply on their services.
He said they also might.
have to "dig into their own
pockets" to compensate for
the probable elimination of
Medicaid that would result. —
Indeed, with any of the
projected cuts, "somebody
has to make up for them, and
in our case, it is usually the
federations and the Jewish
philanthropic pot," he said.
Both Mr. Wenick and Mr.
Talisman say they recognize

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