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#236: White House Statement on Central American, Haitian Migrants (fwd)


White House Statement on Central American, Haitian Migrants 
To: National Desk 
Contact: White House Press Office, 202-456-2100 

WASHINGTON, Aug. 6 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The following was released 
today by the White House: 

President Clinton Announces Legislation to Provide Parity for Central
American and Haitian Migrants 

Yesterday President Clinton transmitted to the Congress 
legislation that amends and expands the 1997 "Nicaraguan Adjustment 
and Central American Relief Act" (NACARA) and the "Haitian Refugee 
Immigration Fairness Act of 1998" (HRIFA). The President's bill aims 
to ensure that migrants from Nicaragua, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, 
Honduras and Haiti all receive similar treatment under U.S. 
immigration law. 

This bill would right the imbalances left by NACARA by offering 
the same protection to all Central Americans who have fled violence, 
human rights abuses and unrest. Under the legislation, those 
migrants from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras who have resided 
continuously in the United States since December 1, 1995, and do not 
have disqualifying characteristics such as certain criminal 
convictions -- the same requirements applicable to Nicaraguans and 
Cubans under NACARA -- would be eligible to become lawful permanent 
residents. It would provide similar treatment to Haitians who sought 
the protection of the United States in the early 1990s, following the 
overthrow of a democratically elected regime. 

The enactment of this legislation would contribute to stability 
and development in these young and fragile democracies. While these 
countries have made important strides in recent years, they suffer 
from significant unemployment and underemployment. Repatriation of 
the nationals of these countries who have longstanding ties to the 
United States would only add to the economic and political challenges 
facing these governments. The United States has invested substantial 
resources in establishing peace and democracy in these societies, and 
this legislation will help carry out that important commitment. 

"I am pleased that Representatives Luis Gutierrez and 
Christopher Smith introduced this legislation last night with broad 
bipartisan support," the President said. "I commend their leadership 
on this issue and the support of Representatives Carrie Meek, 
Benjamin Gilman and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen who joined with others as 
original co-sponsors of this important legislation."