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Dear Editor:
The Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service issued the following news release.

President Bush signed the fiscal year 2004 presidential determination on refugee admissions October 21, setting the target for admissions of refugees at 70,000, of which 50,000 are allocated to specific geographic regions as follows: Africa-25,000; East Asia-6,500; Europe and Central Asia-13,000; Latin America/Caribbean-3,500; Near East/South Asia-2,000. "A refugee admissions level of 70,000 for FY2004 is good news!" said Ralston H. Deffenbaugh Jr, president of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS). "Fortunately, low refugee arrival numbers in FY2003 did not change future US commitment to the refugee resettlement program." The United States admitted 28,422 refugees last year. "Numbers in the last quarter of FY2003 showed an upswing. We know that there are active efforts on behalf of Somali Bantus in Kenya, Liberians in West Africa and Colombians in Latin America. We urge that these efforts continue as well as reaching out to others for whom resettlement will provide a new beginning. Among them are Burmese in Thailand and India and Bhutanese I recently saw first hand in Nepal. And refugees in many countries need to be reunited with close family members already in the US so families are not separated any longer than absolutely necessary. "We support the administration's efforts and pledge to do everything we can to get US resettlement back on track so we as a nation can use the resources we have to bring new hope and new life to those overseas who have no other durable solution."

Meg Arenberg
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service