114. Memorandum From Jessica Tuchman and Leslie Denend of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski)1


  • Indochinese Refugees

The Interagency Task Force which the President directed to develop a longer term solution to the Indochinese refugee program has submitted its report (Tab B).2 The report asks the President to approve a three-year program involving: the acceptance of approximately 30,000 additional refugees; continued support for refugees now in camps; and encouragement and support for the Government of Thailand to resettle refugees who remain there. The estimated three-year cost to the U.S. is $140 million. For the following reasons we recommend the President not consider making any such commitments at this time.

—The report was based on refugee escape rates that have doubled and possibly quadrupled since it was written. Thus, the costs to the U.S. of such a program are extremely uncertain and would probably be much higher.

—Since the report was written, authorization and appropriations legislation to fund the current refugee program encountered considerable opposition in Congress. Consultations with Members of Congress and their staffs have established two reasons: 1) we failed to show broad international support for refugee resettlement, and 2) we have not been able to establish any limits on future U.S. commitments.

—In a broader context, we have not assessed the future prospects of considering Indochinese refugees along with all other refugees accepted by the U.S. Also, we have not established the appropriate level of assistance to be extended to additional Indochinese refugees.

The memorandum at Tab A asks the Secretary of State to address the issues raised above before the U.S. undertakes commitments to additional Indochinese refugees and calls for recommendations to the President by the end of January.3

[Page 398]


That you sign the memorandum at Tab A.4

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Brzezinski Office File, Country Chron File, Box 19, Indochina. Confidential. Sent for action. Concurred in by Oksenberg.
  2. For the Executive Summary of the report, see Document 115. The Interagency Task Force report is in Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Global Issues, Mathews Subject File, Box 13, Refugees: Indochina: 11/77.
  3. Not found.
  4. There is no indication Brzezinski approved or disapproved the recommendation.