WASHINGTON — The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday approved legislation to temporarily suspend the deportation of Salvadoran and Nicaraguan refugees from the United States until conditions in their home countries improve.
The committee voted 9 to 2 to approve the legislation sponsored by Sen. Dennis DeConcini (D-Ariz), after defeating amendments by Sen. Alan K. Simpson (R-Wyo.), who opposes the measure, that would have diluted it.
DeConcini's measure would give about 400,000 to 500,000 Salvadorans "extended voluntary departure" status--an indefinite suspension of deportation--on a broad scale and not on a case-by-case basis as proposed by Simpson, whose amendment failed 8 to 3.
Approve Kennedy Plan
The committee approved by voice vote an amendment by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) to include Nicaraguans because, he said, a recent proposal by the Reagan Administration did not change the law.
Atty. Gen. Edwin Meese III announced last week that any Nicaraguan exile--there are about 200,000 in the United States--who can show a well-founded fear of persecution at home can stay in this country and receive an authorization to work.
The Administration said this new Nicaraguan policy does not provide extended voluntary departure status but instead represents a case-by-case determination of each Nicaraguan's circumstances.
Simpson, many other Republicans and the Administration oppose DeConcini's legislation because they contend the Salvadorans are seeking economic opportunities in the United States and are not refugees fleeing persecution.
Democratic sponsors claim that Salvadorans and Nicaraguans would face life-threatening dangers if they were forced to return to their homelands.