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5435: Haitians Urged to Practice Good Citizenship on Election Day (fwd)

From: Merrie Archer <MArcher@nchr.org>

 Haitians Urged to Practice Good Citizenship on Election Day

New York, NY, November 2, 2000 -- The National Coalition for Haitian Rights
(NCHR) urged Haitian-American citizens to go en masse to the polls on
November 7, national election day.


?There?s a lot at stakes in these elections,? said Mr. Jocelyn McCalla,
Executive Director of the 18-year old human rights organization. ?Whether
Haitians in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, South Florida, Chicago,
Boston and Philadelphia see real improvements in their communities and real
opportunities for their children, and whether we can look forward to an
enlightened US foreign and immigration policy will largely depend on
Haitians turning out to vote on election day.?


Congress and the Clinton Administration failed to reach agreements on
several spending bills before the Senate decided to adjourn and deal with
them after the elections. It is highly unlikely that there will be
congressional action on these bills before the elections. A measure that
remains dear to Haitians is the Latino Immigration Fairness Act (LIFA)
which, among other things, seeks to redress past wrongs by extending to
Haitians and some Central American refugees immigration benefits that were
given to Cubans and Nicaraguans in 1997. LIFA also seeks to restore a
provision known as 245i that allows eligible intending immigrants who are
already living in the US with their family to adjust their status in the US
rather than abroad in exchange for higher fees.


Claiming that LIFA was equal to a blanket amnesty, Republicans countered
with the LIFE Act at the last minute. Most immigrant advocates agree that
LIFA and LIFE are not on the opposite spectrum: they complement each other.
But the Republicans have insisted that LIFA be taken off the table


?Fair immigration policy is very much on the ballots this year. By showing
up at the polls in large numbers, Haitians will send a loud and clear
message that neither their lives nor that of their less fortunate brothers
and sisters should be taken for granted and played with like a political
football,? declared Mr. McCalla. ?If you are a citizen, and registered to
vote, do so first thing Tuesday, November 7. If you are not, then urge your
citizen relatives, friends and colleagues to do the right thing and go to
the polls,? he added.




Jocelyn McCalla

Executive Director

National Coalition for Haitian Rights