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#130: Bill to Pick up Haitians left out of HRIFA (fwd)

From: Merrill Smith <advocacy@bellatlantic.net>

Published Thursday, July 8, 1999, in the Miami Herald 

Congress will consider bill that would aid immigrants

El Nuevo Herald 

A bill that would benefit at least 400,000 Central American and Haitian
immigrants will be sent by the Clinton administration to Congress before
next week, according to immigration activists and attorneys.

The bill will be an extension of the benefits afforded by the 1997
Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act, known as NACARA,
said Washington-based attorney Jose Pertierra.

``Basically, it would grant permanent residence to those Salvadorans,
Guatemalans, Hondurans and Haitians who entered the United States before
Dec. 1, 1995,'' he said.

Jose Lagos, president of Honduran Unity, said that ``it would be
fabulous if our people could enjoy the benefits of NACARA. We must
remember that Honduras not only supported the war that led to
democratization in Nicaragua, but also suffered greatly as a result of
Hurricane Mitch'' in October 1998.

Adolfo Vargas of the Honduras-Lempira Foundation echoed that feeling.

``We are confident that now we will be able to normalize our legal
status,'' he said.

To sidestep the opposition expected from Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, who
is chairman of the House subcommittee on immigration, the White House
will send the bill directly to the House International Relations

That panel is chaired by Rep. Benjamin Gilman, R-N.Y., and includes
several Hispanic lawmakers, including Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla.,
and Rep. Bob Menendez, D-N.J.

The White House initiative would be submitted as a bill to provide
economic development for Central America and the Caribbean.

At present, only those Nicaraguans and Cubans who entered the country
before Dec. 1, 1995, enjoy the benefits of NACARA. Tens of thousands of
Salvadorans and Guatemalans were left out, because they did not belong
to the program created by the American Baptist churches.
Merrill Smith
Haiti Advocacy, Inc.
1309 Independence Avenue SE
Washington DC 20003-2302
(202) 544-9084
(202) 547-2952 fax