Refugees Reject Center

September 23, 1990

NEW WINDSOR - Most of the 62 Mideast refugees who refused accommodations at the New Windsor Service Center have left Maryland, using one-way plane tickets provided by the federal government.

They left behind some hard feelings from people who had little sympathy about their attitude.

U.S. immigration officials say they've received dozens of calls from people complaining about the refugees' refusal to stay at the center.

"Most people have been asking us, 'Why are you letting them stay here?' " said Louis D. Crocetti Jr., the assistant director of Maryland's Immigration and Naturalization Service office.

"I think the U.S. government has gone out of its way to help these people and it's upsetting to hear that they aren't satisfied and want social services that citizens of this country can't even get," Crocetti said.

The refugees, who fled Kuwait after the Iraqi invasion, were flown to Baltimore-Washington International Airport this month.

They complained the center lacked privacy, public transportation and schools for their children.

The shelter, operated by the Church of the Brethren, has processed about 10,000 refugees over the last decade. Residents must share bathrooms and eat in a cafeteria.

Shelter official Susan Chase said several families went to look at the shelter, but "apparently they wanted a little more luxury than we could provide."

"They're not the poor and downtrodden, although many of them don't have much cash because it's been frozen," Chase said. "They're used to a pretty high standard of living."

Fadia Shaat of Jordan, one of the few refugees still in the area, denied they were looking for handouts.

"We would pay every penny back," she said. "We just need a small space where we can have some privacy."

Miller Davis, the director of the center, said none of his staff was offended by the foreigners' bad reviews.

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