Tuesday, April 20, 1999

Ships bearing illegal
Chinese immigrants

Bullet The issue: The governor of Guam requests federal help in coping with an influx of illegal Chinese immigrants by sea.
Bullet Our view: The government must make every effort to stop the vessels carrying the immigrants.

The phenomenon of ships transporting Chinese nationals attempting to enter the United States illegally, which reached alarming proportions six years ago, is reappearing.

Guam Gov. Carl Gutierrez sent a letter to President Clinton seeking federal assistance to deal with "a crisis triggered by an escalating mass influx of aliens from the People's Republic of China."

The governor said 480 illegal immigrants from China have been apprehended in waters off Guam since January aboard ships that have gone aground. More than 350 undocumented persons currently are housed in Guam's prison.

Gutierrez said he would not release the immigrants into the community because they are of unknown character. He said he was worried that criminals would manipulate the immigrants and that some were suffering from tuberculosis and hepatitis.

The influx has continued since Gutierrez wrote to the president last Tuesday. A vessel carrying 105 people arrived Friday.

Clinton responded by giving Attorney General Janet Reno authority to maintain custody of illegal immigrants in the Northern Marianas, which presumably would relieve the problem in Guam.

However, the problem might not be confined to the Western Pacific. In the past such voyages were aimed at reaching Hawaii, the West Coast and Latin America. One vessel succeeded in entering Honolulu Harbor, where its passengers tried to escape into the city. Other ships were stopped by the Coast Guard at sea.

In June 1993 a ship carrying nearly 300 illegal immigrants ran aground off the coast of the New York City borough of Queens after crossing the Indian and Atlantic oceans.

Six of the passengers died as they tried to reach the shore. The immigrants had agreed to pay the smugglers up to $35,000 each to be transported to the United States.

Similar stories were told by illegal immigrants captured in the Pacific. The immigrants were crammed below decks in squalid conditions.

Despite improved economic conditions in China, there is no shortage of people yearning to emigrate in search of a better life. They are easily exploited by criminal syndicates.

With Guam feeling the effects of a resurgence in the smuggling of illegal immigrants by sea, Hawaii also may be targeted. This is one business Hawaii doesn't need.

The Coast Guard and other federal agencies must make every effort to stop the smugglers' vessels at sea before they can unload their passengers.


Another Indian
government falls

Bullet The issue: The Hindu nationalist government has collapsed after losing a confidence motion by one vote.
Bullet Our view: The Congress Party, which is trying to form a new coalition, is too tied to the Gandhi dynastic tradition to lead India into the new millennium.

THE fall of the coalition government led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party leaves India adrift once more -- the fifth time in three years. The Congress Party, which fell out of favor after decades of domination, is trying to put together a new government.

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's coalition lasted only 13 months, which was not surprising in view of the shakiness of its foundations. The party's demise was foreshadowed when it lost four state elections last November.

The government will be remembered mainly for resuming nuclear weapons tests, raising the specter of a new arms race with Pakistan and prompting the United States to impose economic sanctions.

The coalition fell Saturday after losing a confidence motion by 270 to 269 votes.

The Congress Party is 127 seats short of a majority in the 545-member lower house of Parliament. If the party fails to put together a majority coalition, new elections -- the third in as many years -- may be necessary.

Two leftist parties appeared to be blocking the way. The All India Forward Bloc and the Revolutionary Socialist Party, which between them have seven votes, said they could not support a Congress government.

Vajpayee's Bharatiya Janata Party challenged its rival to show that it could form a government. It said a new cabinet under Vajpayee or snap elections were the only options.

Even if the Congress Party can form a government, it is questionable that it is capable of leading India into the new millennium.

The fact that the party is led by Sonia Gandhi, the Italian-born widow of the assassinated Rajiv Gandhi, indicates that it is too tied to the Gandhi dynastic tradition.

Sonia Gandhi, should she succeed in forming a governing coalition, could become the fourth of her family to become prime minister, following Rajiv, his mother Indira and her father, Jawaharlal Nehru.

However, there are no obviously better options at this point. India's need for stable, effective government is becoming desperate. If the Congress Party cannot provide it, the only remedy may be still another election.

Published by Liberty Newspapers Limited Partnership

Rupert E. Phillips, CEO

John M. Flanagan, Editor & Publisher

David Shapiro, Managing Editor

Diane Yukihiro Chang, Senior Editor & Editorial Page Editor

Frank Bridgewater & Michael Rovner, Assistant Managing Editors

A.A. Smyser, Contributing Editor

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