The 88,885 Cuban refugees who fled to the United States in the last six weeks will be permitted to stay, President Carter has said for the first time.

In an interview, Carter said the refugees "will be assimilated" into the United States.

That statement apparently removes any speculation that the administration will try to resettle a significant number of Cubans in other countries. Such speculation developed last week when the State Department passed out questionnaires asking refugees at processing centers whether they would agree to move to another country.

The president's statements, made to newspaper editors during a private White House meeting Wednesday, came in response to an editor's question about what Carter would say to officials of cities that anticipate receiving a major influx of Cubans.

Carter noted that he had ordered the informal Mariel-to-Key West boatlift stopped May 14. He said U.S. policy "will not result in any substantial new emigres to our country" after that date.

(On May 14, U.S. officials estimated that 42,000 refugees had arrived in this country. Although few boats have left Key West for Cuba since then, hundreds have arrived at Key West, with 88,885 reported in the United States now.)

Carter also addressed the refugee question during a campaign appearance today in Parma, a suburb of Clevland, in reply to a question. In the future, he said, "I will only permit them to come into this country in accordance with legal screening processing to be worked out with the Cuban government."