Fake Refugees Cite China's One-Child Rule The San Francisco Examiner Op-Ed December 21, 1994 Yeh Ling-Ling
As a naturalized citizen of Chinese ancestry, I wish to praise U.S. District Judge Eugene Lynch.
He ruled that an executive order by former President Bush, who gave special consideration for asylum to Chinese nationals based on China's one-child policy, is no longer binding.
Unfortunately, many judges and officials in the past have repeatedly violated the intent of the Refugee Act of 1980 by granting asylum on grounds not consistent with its provisions. They don't seem to understand the serious consequences.
A case in point is the Clinton administration's recent decision to grant safe haven to Chinese nationals in the United States, including those smuggled in by organized crime syndicates in China, who claim that China's "one-child" policy is cruel. That uninformed decision is shortsighted and irresponsible, both toward residents in China and United States citizens.
When Chinese nationals who were smuggled here by boat last year were asked in Chinese why they had come to the United States, the answer given matter-of-factly by many of them was: "To make money!"
Ko-Lin Chin, a Chinese American sociology professor at Rutgers University in New Jersey, has interviewed 300 Chinese illegal immigrants. He noted that none of them expressed fear of persecution resulting from China's one-child policy as their reason for coming to the United States. However, many Chinese smuggled in by boat have filed asylum applications, claiming that they would be persecuted if they were returned to China.
Sing Dao Daily, one of the largest Chinese American newspapers, editorialized last year that Chinese Americans oppose granting asylum based on the one-child policy.
China now has approximately 1.2 billion people. If current population growth rates continue, China will double its population in approximately 61 years, to 2.4 billion.
Poverty is already widespread in rural China. In addition, China is developing major environmental problems in some cities, due to explosive industrial growth in some of its provinces.
In the coming century, as this industrialization spreads to the rest of the country, coupled with another billion human beings, China, and indeed the entire world, may face an environmental nightmare of enormous magnitude.
Professor Ling-Chi Wang of UC-Berkeley is among those in agreement with many studies that say China will eventually face famine without its one-child policy.
If we grant asylum to Chinese nationals on that basis, are we telling residents in China, at least those who feel restricted by its government's population control policy, that the United States has the resources to absorb all of them?
Or are we saying that it is more humane that residents of China die of famine than be limited to one child per family?
If the answer to both questions is negative, isn't it irresponsible for the United States to sabotage China's policy?
Granting asylum based on China's one-child policy is certainly not within the intent of the Refugee Act of 1980. That legislation intends to protect people who are persecuted or have well-founded fear of persecution on account of their political opinions, race, nationality, religion or membership in a particular social organization. None of these allows a carte blanche extension of asylum protection to millions of residents of China.
The U.S. government must be made aware that once those asylum applicants are granted permanent residency, they typically will petition for their immediate and extended families to emigrate from China. This will result in a potentially unending chain of immigrants.
It is commendable that Americans wish to protect the rights of citizens of other countries. But we cannot do so at the cost of denying those same rights, the right to an adequate education, the right to find gainful employment, the right to live in sustainable communities, to the citizens and legal residents of this country. However, those rights have been, and will continue to be, curtailed by exponential population growth, driven in large part by massive immigration, legal and illegal.
Even Paul Ong, Chinese American professor at UCLA, a strong advocate of immigrant rights, has said: "...In terms of adverse impact on wages and employment, the adverse impact of immigration will be most pronounced on minorities and established immigrants..."
It is clearly in the interest of China and the United States that asylum cases be adjudicated according to the real intent of the Refugee Act of 1980. The Clinton Administration's decision on this matter should also be repealed.
Oakland writer Yeh Ling-Ling is the California representative in a group called Population-Environment Balance.