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Perspectives on U.S. Refugee Programs
Address at the 38th annual dinner of the New York Association for New Americans (NYANA) in acceptance of the association's Award of Honor to the Bureau of Refugee Programs in New York City on June 11, 1987; and a statement before the Subcommittee on Immigration and Refugee Policy of the Senate Judiciary Committee on June 30.(1)
Mr. Moore is Ambassador at Large and Coordinator for Refugee Affairs.
JUNE 11, 1987
I am deeply appreciative to the members of the Board of the New York Association for New Americans for this distinguished award. Yours is very obviously a remarkable organization, and I am honored to be here among you.
We are also pleased to share this occasion with the American Jewish Committee, whose historic work in support of generous, humane immigration and refugee policies for people of all ethnic and religious backgrounds has been so critical to their success.
Receiving an award like this can give one mixed emotions--real gratitude for the recognition of a job well done and some sense of guilt in knowing how much more needed to have been done. Perhaps this is always so in refugee work. In this instance, I find myself at an unusual juncture--I have been Director of the Bureau for Refugee Programs just long enough to have learned at first hand the justification for this award, while not long enough to deserve any of the credit myself. Therefore, I am free to join in the commendation the award represents and to extol and praise those who truly are responsible. Bob Funseth, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Refugee Programs and a leader in the Bureau for over 5 years, who is here with us tonight, is one of them. My new coworkers are among the most talented, hardest working, dedicated, the most filled with humanitarian concern that I have known in a wideranging career in politics, government, and public service. And it is in their behalf that I accept the award and offer my thanks both to you and to them for it.
Role of the Bureau
The full range of challenges faced by the worldwide responsibilities of the Bureau for Refugee Programs, as well as the breadth of accomplishments which have been achieved, is truly impressive. The mission is extraordinary. Refugees are found on every continent, and the diversity of efforts to respond to their needs is equally vast. On a given day, people in the bureau may:
Assess a program to aid the repatriation of refugees to El Salvador;
Meet with UNHCR [UN High Commissioner for Refugees] officials in Geneva on the problem of long-stayer refugees in Southeast Asia;
Devise a system to provide water to a camp in the eastern Sudan;
Send instructions to Havana to negotiate the release of a group of Cuban political prisoners;
Meet with officials from the World Bank to discuss a reforestation project employing Afghan refugees in Pakistan;
Make arrangements to bring a Soviet defector to the United States from a country in Latin America;
Draft legislation to provide assistance to refugees who are victims of violence;
Review the budget requirements for HIAS [Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society] and AJDC [American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee] for their assistance to Soviet Jews transiting Europe;
Visit Malawi to assess the condition and needs of the thousands of refugees flooding into that country from Mozambique;
Monitor voluntary agency resettlement programs in Denver, Colorado;
Consult with directors of the voluntary agencies in New York on proposed changes in the processing of Iranian refugees;
Work with our representative in Vienna to modify a program of the UN Relief and Works Agency which provides schools and health care facilities in the Palestinian refugee camps;
Negotiate with the Vietnamese to get the orderly departure program (ODP) from Vietnam operational;
Defend the bureau's budget and programs before a congressional subcommittee;
Chair an interagency meeting with INS [Immigration and Naturalization Service], the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the NSC [National Security Council], and the Public Health Service to address the effect of AIDS [acquired immune deficiency syndrome] testing on refugee programs; and
Trek through mountainous terrain to ensure the welfare of a group seeking asylum in Southeast Asia which had been denied protection.
These are examples of some of the remarkable undertakings the Bureau for Refugee Programs deals with …