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U.S. Rejects Salvador Plea to Not Return Illegal Aliens

May 14, 1987|Associated Press

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.

She said the Administration will continue to monitor the effect of this legislation on the numbers of undocumented aliens returning to their native lands.

Stiff Penalties on Companies

Under the immigration law, all illegal aliens who have been living in the United States continuously since before Jan. 1, 1982, will be eligible to remain in the country as legal residents.

The law imposes stiff penalties on companies that employ illegal aliens who arrived in the United States after that date.

Duarte wrote President Reagan last month that El Salvador's severe economic problems make the country ill-equipped to absorb the hundreds of thousands of aliens subject to deportation under the law.

The Salvadoran economy has been suffering from prolonged civil war and a devastating earthquake last October.

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