The State Department has recommended that the Justice Department end the special immigration status of 7,000 to 10,000 Polish nationals who have lived in this country since Poland declared martial law in late 1981.
If the controversial recommendation is adopted, those Polish nationals without valid current visas could be expelled from the country starting July 1.
The department's recommendation, which is coming under sharp attack in the U.S. Polish community, reflects the growing normalization of relations between the United States and Poland, sources said.
Al Nazewski, president of the Polish American Congress, said in an interview, "The State Department is so naive to think the Polish communist government will be fair to them when they return -- when they don't have an apartment and they don't have a job and they don't have stamps for food.
"There are many who have had children in this country who are American citizens. It's inhuman and cruel," he said. "You just can't cut off people like this . . . . They've got a taste of freedom now."
The recommendation comes after a Feb. 23 decision by Secretary of State George P. Shultz to lift economic sanctions against Poland. There has also been talk recently between the United States and Poland of again exchanging ambassadors. Polish government spokesman Jerzy Urban said Tuesday in Warsaw that an agreement has been reached to exchange ambassadors, but the State Department said no formal agreement has been reached.
Diplomatic relations between the two countries were downgraded in December 1981 after martial law was imposed to curb labor unrest, Solidarity union leader Lech Walesa was arrested, and Romuald Spasowski, the Polish ambassador to the United States, defected.
Since then, the U.S. government has suspended any deportation of Polish nationals, whether or not they have valid visas.
Several administration sources said yesterday that there is considerable opposition to the State Department proposal from officials who think that any effort to deport the Polish nationals would be unfair and politically unwise.
"The State Department can say whatever they want. We will make the final decision," said one Justice Department source who said Attorney General Edwin Meese III feels very strongly that the Poles should not be deported. An administration official added that it would look "bizarre" for an anticommunist administration to "start deporting people back to a communist country."