Sen. Frank Church (D-Idaho), chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said yesterday he does not think the United States should increase the number of refugees allowed into this country because the United States already is shouldering more than its fair share.
"Since we are taking 70 percent of the refugees in Southeast Asia we're doing our part, you know? What's the rest of the world doing that all together the rest of the world can only take in 30 percent of those refugees? What about Japan, that's only taken in 500?
"You know, I think we're doing our share. More than our share, perhaps," Church said. "I'm willing - but I'm not willing to increase that burden further. I think we should look to the rest of the world that surely can do more."
Church, speaking on "Meet the Press" (NBC, WRC), asked if his comments mean he does not favor allowing more refugees into the United States. He replied, "We're taking in 7,000 a month and that's 70 percent of the total. I would be willing for the United States to share the burden more equally with other countries. But as long as the rest of the world refuses to take in more than 30 percent I think our efforts should be directed towards them."
In a related development, Hyman Bookbinder, Washington representative of the American Jewish Committee, said his group sent President Carter a telegram last week saying "as Jews, we cannot stand by idly and be indifferent" to the refugee problem and urging the administration to double the number of incoming refugees.