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America and World Refugees

September 21, 1988

The points raised by Bandow are all well taken. Being the son of immigrant parents who fled Hungary shortly after the 1956 revolution, largely for survival rather than political reasons, I am grateful to the United States for opening its doors to us. Our nation has, as Bandow points out, a moral obligation to freely welcome those who live under tyranny, either political or nutritional.

Unfortunately, Bandow oversimplifies the problem of admitting refugees to our country. The current political climate in the United States is such that our own "refugees," i.e., the homeless, the bankrupt farmer, and the migrant worker to name just a few, struggle to survive. Their plight is no less desperate than that of the boat people, or perhaps any other group of refugees in the world today. The Reagan Administration has focused much attention on violations of human rights in various nations of the world, yet seems to be blind to offenses committed against our own people on our own soil. These violations are ones of inaction and neglect by the federal government and local governments. If we cannot help our own citizens, what can we offer to those who are new arrivals? Unless the various levels of government (and the people who elect them) are willing to take responsibility for those in need of assistance, it is not only impractical, but also irresponsible to raise immigration quotas and reduce the stringency of the selection processes now in place.

THOMAS A. BICSAK

San Diego

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