aged to use Medicaid and other programsnlike food stamps and Section 8nhousing; those of retirement age receivenSocial Security and Medicare.nSponsoring organizations dispense additionalngovernment-funded benefits.nThe New York Association for NewnAmericans, the largest such organizationnfor Soviet Jews, is like an extensionnof Health and Human Services run bynimmigrants. It is described in the immigrantncommunity as a “Soviet-stylenMafia.”nRefugees are given an inside track toncitizenship and do not have to demonstratenemployment or self-sufficiency,nwhich is the case for most other immigrantncategories. In theory, immigrantnvisas are approved only for those unlikelynto become a public charge, andnan immigrant can be deported if henbecomes a “public burden” within fivenyears of arrival. In practice, the courtsnhave diluted the definition of a “publicnburden.” But when comparing admissionnas a refugee versus admission as anregular immigrant, nonrefugee immigrationnoverwhelmingly favors individualsnwith jobs.nThe number of Soviets applying fornthe refugee program is so great that thenUnited States recently narrowed itsndefinition of a refugee to include onlynthose with relatives already here. Thus,nSoviet refugees of today will almostnalways have relatives in the UnitednStates — perhaps in-laws or uncles,nthemselves recent beneficiaries of thenresettiement program. A typical nonrefugeenimmigrant must have an immediatenfamily member who is a U.S.ncitizen. We do not know how manynrefugees could be admitted to thenUnited States as regular immigrants —neither under recendy expanded skillednworker categories or because of familynties. It is clear, however, that the regularnimmigration quota is undersubscribed.nThis year only three thousandnwill be admitted as immigrants fromnthe Soviet Union. Refugee status is thendesignation of choice for those immigratingnto America and for those innAmerica who would otherwise have tonhelp with some of the costs.nThe Morrison-Lautenberg bill ofn1990 establishes a presumption thatnJews and Christian evangelicals in thenSoviet Union are, as a group, subject tonpersecution. Accordingly, “Once annindividual asserts that he is a membern42/CHRONICLESnof the covered class and asserts that henhas been persecuted or has a fear ofnpersecution that individual shall bendeemed a refugee, subject only tonwhatever countervailing evidence thenINS [Immigration and NaturalizationnService] may have or produce to establishnthat the individual was not persecutednor could not reasonably have anwell founded fear of persecution.” Essentially,nthe refugee quota for thenSoviet Union is filled by members ofnthe covered group (with relatives innAmerica) on a first-come, first-servednbasis. According to the State Departmentnand the INS, eighty to ninetynpercent of the slots go to Jewish applicants,nwhile most of the balance isnawarded to evangelicals.’ Those who donnot meet the Morrison-Lautenbergncriteria need not apply. .nFor an individual seeking to move tonAmerica, the process begins with anrefugee application obtained from thenU.S. embassy or the black marketnwhere photocopies are sold. Applicationsnare mailed to Washington fornevaluation against the criteria definingna refugee. The processing center innWashington contacts supposed relativesnin America to verify the familynlink claimed on the applicafion. Mostnrefugee applications are weeded out upnfront for lack of family ties in thenUnited States. After a three to five yearnwait the applicant is given a ten-minuteninterview with an INS staffer in thenSoviet Union.nIf the would-be immigrant is Jewish,nand doesn’t want to risk the wait, henmay go to Israel. Israel is currentiynabsorbing about one hundred seventynthousand Soviet Jews a year. In Moscownone often hears the complaintnamong Jews that the Americans andnIsraelis struck a deal to shunt Jewishnimmigration away from the UnitednStates to Israel. America is the countrynof choice for the vast majority of Sovietnemigres, including those leaving fornIsrael. The ten billion dollars in U.S.nloan guarantees to underwrite the settlementnof Soviet Jews in Israel may benonly part of the aid required to keepnthe migration to that country fromnbecoming a genuirie refugee crisis. Itnseems America will pay for Sovietnemigration, whatever direction it takes.nThe State Department has estimatednthe cost for refugee processing innAmerica to be about seventy millionnnndollars for each ten thousand refugees.nHowever, this amount does not includenestimates for expenditures onnsocial services required after the refugeenhas arrived here. Much of this costnis submerged in state expenditures fornMedicaid and other welfare programs.nAccording to an unofficial poll conductednby Novoye Russkoye Slovo,namong working-age Soviet emigresnone-third are unemployed a year afternarrival. Including pensioners in thenoverall number of new arrivals wouldnmean that 40 percent of Soviet adultnimmigrants are dependent on variousnwelfare programs a year after arrival.nCompared to the actual cost of maintainingna refugee, the seven thousandndollar processing-and-transportationnfee is mere bus fare.nBesides spawning bureaucracies tondispense it, public assistance has tiltednthe demographics of the refugee populationnaway from the characteristicsnthat could make the migration a selffinancingnprocess. According to thenHealth and Human Services Office fornRefugee Resettlement, about 20 percentnof Soviet refugees are over age 55.nBy contrast, only 7 percent of nonrefugeenimmigrants are older than 55. Thisndifference is even more significant thannthe numbers would seem to suggest.nMost eldedy immigrants are joiningnchildren who are established and whonwill be able to support them. Oldernrefugees arrive in need of assistancenfrom day one.nDuring an eight-month tour of thenSoviet Union in 1988 I made thenacquaintance of several individualsnwho were planning to emigrate tonAmerica. Some talked about the freenmedical care they would be receivingnfor problems that could never be addressednat home. One man near retirementnage (60 for men, 55 for womennin the Soviet Union) said he had heardnhe would not have to work since henwould be receiving a “full U.S. pension”nin America. With a few othernfacts he had determined that within anyear he would be able to buy a car,nsomething he could not do in a lifetimenof work at home. He was correct, andnwe never could get past that point innour discussions about the trials andnresponsibilities of emigration to anotherncountry.nPart of immigration policy is analogousnto controlling crowds at a trainn