WASHINGTON — The Reagan Administration said today that it is turning down a request from El Salvador that hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens not be forced to return to that economically hard-pressed country.
State Department deputy spokeswoman Phyllis Oakley said the Administration gave the request "the most serious consideration" but "wishes to avoid exceptions which others might take as precedents."
Salvadoran President Jose Napoleon Duarte estimates that 400,000 to 600,000 Salvadorans, roughly 10% of the population, could be deported under the new U.S. immigration law. Proportionately, no country is believed affected by the law more than El Salvador.
But Oakley said the return of large numbers of Salvadorans to their homeland is unlikely because of provisions in the law that permit legalization and continued employment for many aliens not eligible for amnesty.