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September 26, 2003 - Image 37

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-09-26

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

grams such as Head Start.
But Orthodox groups applauded the
acceleration of the administration's
faith-based effort. "We welcome these
developments that will lower the barri-
ers that prevent religious groups from
participating on an equal footing in
administering social service programs,"
said Abba Cohen, Washington repre-
sentative for Agudath Israel of America.
"We're very pleased that the administra-
tion is steadfast in moving forward."

Im m igration Hold

The U.S. refugee program is in tatters,
thanks to Sept. 11-related slowdowns
and what critics say is administration
indifference.
And the worsening situation could
jeopardize the safety of some Jews
today and many more in the uncertain
future.
"The refugee program is clearly at a
crossroads," said Leonard Glickman,
CEO of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid
Society. "It's experienced two unprece-
dented years of low arrivals, due in
part to the Sept. 11 fallout, but also
due to years of official neglect."
According to figures released this
week, refugee admissions will be down
to about 25,000 for the fiscal year just
ending. That's half of the official U.S.
quota — a quota that itself was down
sharply from previous years.
The end of the Cold War and shift-
ing patterns of regional conflict,
Glickman said, have added to the gov-
ernment's inability to "reach refugees
where they are located now."
Ten years ago, most refugees came
from Indochina and the former Soviet
Union; today there are groups fleeing
ethnic and regional conflicts in dozens
of countries.
The slowdown is not having a major
impact on Jews from the former Soviet
Union, once the biggest piece of the
refugee pie. "Where the problem is
really affecting the Jewish refugee pro-
gram is in Iran," Glickman said.
Jews and others fleeing Iran are
processed by U.S. authorities in
Vienna. The disarray in Washington is
causing a "real slowdown," Glickman
said.
This week, the HIAS board of direc-
tors was in Washington, urging
administration officials to clear up the
logjam and repair a badly broken pro-
gram. If that doesn't happen,
Glickman said, "the entire infrastruc-
ture" of voluntary and government
agencies that serve refugees is in dan-
ger of falling apart. And that poses a
big danger for the future. ❑

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