"I ask you to authorize a more humane and flexible application of our immigration laws, to continue pressing other regional governments to provide safe haven for more of these refugees, and to halt the repatriation of interdicted Haitian refugees."
Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk to President Bush, 11/20/91"I urgently plead with you to cut through the legal and political gordian knot and make provision for persons fleeing Haiti to be received aboard U.S. vessels and brought to a processing center either in this country or in some Caribbean country."
Cardinal Bernard Law to President Bush, 5/22/92After six months, conditions within Haiti have deteriorated dramatically, the embargo has been applied only enough to further harm the poorest while strengthening the already powerful, and the refugees flee in their hundreds and thousands.
ISSUE: The latest decision of the Administration to interdict and return fleeing Haitians regardless of where encountered is profoundly alarming, "a short-sighted quick fix", as MRS director Fr. Rick Ryscavage termed it, "that will ultimately backfire."
Efforts are underway in Congress to insist that compliance with the UN Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees (which holds that no state shall return a refugee to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened, and to which the US has acceded) includes situations in which the refugee is encountered outside US territory.
LEGISLATION: A Bill being introduced the week of June 1 by Representatives Rangel and Solarz seeks to reinstate screening and the non-return of persons found to have claim to refugee status. It provides that no Haitian national interdicted on the high seas or in Haitian territorial waters shall be returned to Haiti by U.S. officials unless it is determined that he or she does not have a credible claim to refugee status. U.S. officials shall not obstruct or redirect the movement of Haitian boat people outside U.S. territory if the effect would be the return of Haitians to their country of origin without a determination of whether they have a credible claim to refugee status."
ACTION NEEDED: Please call your Representative as soon as possible, urging support for the Solarz/Rangel Bill on Haitian refugees.
Fur further information: Tom Quigley (202) 541-3198