President Carter's announcement that 130,000 Cubans and Haitians would be permanently resettled in the United States without full federal funding was sharply criticized on several fronts yesterday.
Victor H. Palmieri, the administration's coordinator for refugee affairs, told reporters at a State Department briefing that the newcomers will be eligible for financial aid for six months while the White House sends special lelgislation to Congress to create and fund a new "Cuban-Haitian entrant" status.
It is estimated that the aid package will cost the federal government only about a third as much as it would have if the Cubans and Haitians were legally termed "refugees" -- with the states and localities picking up the rest of the cost.
Palmieri said the package represented the administration "biting the bullet" on difficult and contradictory policy options. The plan is viewed, he said, as a balancing act to provide some support to sustain the newcomers until they are settled, but "not at a level that represents an invitation for future arrivals."
He acknowledged that the actions described yesterday mean that virtually all of the Cubans and Haitians will remain permanently in this country. But he tried to characterize the policy as an employment program, saying that the new arrivals, "will take jobs a lot of Americans don't want."
The administration has been concerned about the fiscal implications of aiding the Cubans and Haitians, especially in a time of rising unemployment. Palmieri acknowledged that the fiscal 1980 costs will be just under half a billion dollars.
He refused to estimate the fiscal 1981 costs, saying it will depend on how soon the refugee processing camps are closed and the new "entrants" employed.
Palmieri and other officials also concede that they do not expect that the administration's special legislation will be enacted until next year. Palmieri said the attorney general has the authority to reextend the six-month parole for the Cubans and Haitians until the legislation passes.
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Carter's Democratic presidential challenger, criticized the new policy for dumping a major portion of the cost on state and local governments. Spokesmen for the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National Governors Association, and the American Public Welfare Association voiced similar concerns.
And Sen. Richard Stone and Rep. Dante B. Fascell, both Democrats from Florida, the state facing the heaviest influx of Cubans and Haitians, said they plan to continue to push in Congress for full federal coverage for the benefits.
"Why should I want my constituents to bear the burden for what is a national policy?" Fascell asked. Stone said that partial federal funding might be adequate for the rest of the country, but not for Florida.
Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman (D-N.Y.), who heads the House immigration subcommittee, said through an aide that she couldn't understand why the policy decision took so long. "The administration has labored since April and brought forth a mouse," she said.
The tardy action, she added, meant that Congress had to "pick up the pieces" by hastily adopting legislation to finance the benefits. One administration official who worked on the financial details of the package agreed that there were major holes in i t.
For instance, the administration is leaning for now on a hurriedly passed measure, sponsored by Fascell in the House and Stone in the Senate, to provide the first resettlement benefits. Yet that amendment to the fiscal 1980 appropriations bill calls for full, not partial, federal funding.
Not all the response was negative. Rep. Shirley Chisholm (D-N.Y.), speaking for the Congressional Black Caucus, said the recognition that Haitians should be treated like Cubans was a "significant change" in the administration's position.
Until recently, the Immigration and Naturalization Service was trying to expel the more than 15,000 Haitians who have entered south Florida in the past several years. Justice Department officials said yesterday that the new status for Haitians means an end to that policy.
John McCarthy, director of refugee services for the U.S. Catholic Conference, said simply: "There's some bucks in it for us, thank God."
Volunteer agencies that have been finding sponsors for the newcomers will be paid $300 for each person resettled since Thursday and $100 for each person processed earlier.
The volunteer agencies are given $500 for each Indochinese newcomer, who is called a "refugee" in the legal sense.
In his meeting with reporters, Palmieri said that procedures for applying for the new benefits will be announced by the INS and the Department of Health and Human Services next Friday. The Cubans and Haitians will be required to have identification cards as part of qualifying for the financial assistance, he said.
The refugee coordinator also repeated administration pledges to try to return hardened criminals to Cuba and to seek the aid of other countries in taking some of the newcomers.
The special legislation would provide services to the newcomers for a year and allow them to convert their parolee status to that of a permanent resident alien -- and eventually critizenship -- after two years.
Asked what benefits will be available in that second year, officials said, "We hope they're all working."
Those Cubans and Haitians who arrived after the June 19 cut-off date will not be eligible for the new program. The 40,000 names of relatives of Cuban-Americans waiting for Castro to allow an orderly exodus could still come to this country under the Refugee Act, after being processed in Cuba, officials said.