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#211: Equal Immigration Rights Sought (fwd)


Friday August 6 6:39 PM ET Equal Immigration Rights Sought

 WASHINGTON (AP) - President Clinton has sent Congress a bill that would
equalize immigration rights for people from Central America and Haiti.
Traveling to the hurricane ravaged region earlier this year, Clinton
said he would seek to correct an imbalance in immigration
laws that gave advantage to people who had fled communist regimes in
Cuba and Nicaragua.``Like Nicaraguans and Cubans, many Salvadorans,
Guatemalans, Hondurans and Haitians fled human rights abuses or
unstable political economic conditions in the 1980s and 1990s,'' Clinton
said in a letter to Congress. ``Yet these latter groups
received lesser treatment than that granted to Nicaraguans and Cubans.''
The ``Central American and Haitian Parity Act,'' introduced Thursday
night by Reps. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., and Christopher Smith, R-N.J.,
would offer the same protection to fled violence, human rights abuses
and unrest in other nations.Under the legislation, migrants from Haiti,
El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras who have resided continuously in the
United States since Dec. 1, 1995, and haven't been convicted of a crime,
would be eligible to become permanent U.S. residents.It would provide
similar treatment to Haitians who sought protection in the United States
in the early 1990s.Meanwhile, the Immigration and Naturalization Service
said it will create more consistent procedures for officials to follow
when dealing with illegal aliens facing deportation. The guidelines will
end a system that varied from region to region, INS officials said.
``The agency is committed to fairness, consistency and timeliness,''
said INS Commissioner Doris Meissner. ``The procedures
announced today will meet these commitments while keeping community
safety a top priority.''The guidelines, which take effect immediately,
are interim until permanent rules are written and published.The new
rules deal with individuals who have been ordered removed from the
country but face delays for various reasons. In some cases, for
instance, U.S. relations with an alien's country can slow the exchange
of needed information and delay the process, officials said.It's in
those situations, officials must decide whether to continue to detain
the individual or release them if they are not a threat to
public safety.Among the changes are reviews at various levels of the
agency to ensure fair treatment. It also provides a timeline where the
agency must continually review a case to determine if an alien should
continue to be detained or be released.Release ``was not always
uniformly applied by different districts,'' said John O'Malley, an INS
spokesman. ``This makes sure when it's appropriate they do.''