The Politics of American Refugee Policy

October 27, 1989

Report Outline
Special Focus


Critics of U.S. refugee policy say the government unfairly favors those fleeing communist countries or other nations with which the United States is at odds. The Refugee Act of 1980 was meant to depoliticize the process, but as recent disputes over Soviet emigrés indicate, the legislation hasn't had the intended effect.

Go to top


Nearly 10 years after passage of the 1980 Refugee Act, U.S. refugee policy is mired in just the kind of political discord the legislation was intended to eliminate.

In an attempt to depoliticize refugee policy, the act eliminated preferences for those fleeing communist countries. Decisions about whether a person was to be admitted into the United States were to be made not on the basis of the refugee's ideology, or the ideology of his homeland, but rather because the individual could demonstrate “a well-founded fear of persecution,”

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Refugees and Asylum
Jan. 17, 2020  Global Migration
Jun. 26, 2018  Refugee Crisis
Aug. 16, 2017  Refugees
Jul. 31, 2015  European Migration Crisis
Mar. 2009  Aiding Refugees
Jul. 09, 1999  Global Refugee Crisis
Feb. 07, 1997  Assisting Refugees
Oct. 27, 1989  The Politics of American Refugee Policy
May 30, 1980  Refugee Policy
Aug. 26, 1977  Indochinese Refugees
Apr. 11, 1962  Cuban Refugees
Feb. 25, 1959  Doctrine of Asylum
Jan. 08, 1958  Palestine Arab Refugees
Oct. 12, 1954  Assimilation of Refugees
May 03, 1950  Right of Asylum
Nov. 27, 1946  Immigration of Refugees
Apr. 14, 1938  Resettlement of Refugees
Immigration and Naturalization
Powers and History of the Presidency