The new plan will shut down the traditional processing centers in Rome and Vienna, in favor of processing immigrants through the U.S. embassy in Moscow. The administration claims that it is spending too much money caring for the refugees who arrive for processing via the Vienna-Rome pipeline.
Donald Hammond, U.S. director for World Relief, the international assistance arm of the National Association of Evangelicals, testified before Congress that this plan means that "evangelical Christians will have to go the end of a very long line."
Virtually all of the 12,000 evangelicals who have left the Soviet Union since early 1988 have been processed through Vienna and Rome. "Fewer than one percent of the 65,000 people on line at the American embassy in Moscow today are evangelical Christians. The cold, hard fact is that no evangelical Christian refugee will be able to leave the U.S.S.R. for at least two years."
In an interview with the Russian Reformation Foundation, Serge Duss of World Relief's Russian resettlement program, was discouraged about the possibility of changing the Bush administration's policy in the near future.
If this policy does prove to keep Christians from effectively coming to the U.S., then World Relief may attempt another public opinion blitz in the future. RRF urges believers to write to Congress and the Administration about the plight of Soviet Christians. (See RRF ad on p.15.)