Equal-Opportunity Persecution

Immigrating to the United States can be an arduous process, separating families for years. But in the case of one couple from China, it cost the life of their unborn child. Alan Lin came to America first, leaving behind his wife, Jihong. Shortly afterward, Jihong discovered that she was pregnant with their first child. She received permission from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) to join her husband, but because of a huge backlog, it would be a full two years before she could enter the U.S. Jihong knew what that meant. Chinese law strictly regulates who may have children—and anyone who gets pregnant without government permission is forced to have an abortion. If a woman goes into hiding, police track her down. Authorities retaliate against the woman's family and against neighbors who shelter her by docking their pay and sometimes even burning down their homes. This was the frightening prospect Jihong faced—for her pregnancy was illegal. Chinese law requires women to be 23 years old before getting pregnant. Jihong was 22. In desperation she went into hiding and applied to the United States for humanitarian parole, which would allow her into the country sooner. But her application was turned down. Her husband appealed to the INS, Attorney General Janet Reno, Secretary of State Warren Christopher, and various members of Congress. But all in vain. Finally, rather than endanger her family, Jihong gave herself up to authorities and submitted to the abortion of her five-month-old unborn child. As the tragic story of Jihong and Alan Lin show, immigration is forcing the U.S. to come to grips with China's coercive abortion policy. A few years ago the Bush administration issued an executive order requiring the INS to give preference to anyone fleeing a country because of "forced abortion or coercive sterilization." But the Clinton administration is currently reversing that order. Administration lawyers filed papers in two California courts stating that the directive is "unenforceable." The administration argues that since forced abortion is imposed on everyone in China, without discrimination by race or religion, it does not constitute grounds for asylum. Apparently this kind of persecution is acceptable—as long as it is equal-opportunity persecution. If the Clinton administration rejects forced abortion as grounds for asylum, it will be a serious reversal of America's immigration tradition. Our Christian heritage requires us to protect those who suffer persecution. That's why our nation has always been a haven for those fleeing countries that violate fundamental freedoms—such as the freedom to have children without fear of government persecution. Today the administration faces a decision about 250 Chinese who landed in New York a year ago, escaping forced abortions. You and I need to keep the pressure on our members of Congress. Let them know we want coercive abortion treated as the callous human-rights violation it really is. People like Alan and Jihong Lin should not have to pay for their freedom . . . with the death of their unborn child.


Chuck Colson


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