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#1844: Two Haitian Children To Be Returned (fwd)


Two Haitian Children To Be Returned 
  By Karin Meadows Associated Press Writer
 Friday, Jan. 14, 2000; 5:46 a.m. EST

MIAMI  Haitian-Americans in South Florida are applauding a U.S.
government decision to reunite two Haitian children separated from their
 mother when their migrant-packed boat ran aground off the Florida
coast. Authorities said on Thursday the family reunion will occur in the
United States within the next few days. U.S. Rep. Carrie Meek said Yvena
Rhinvil's children  10-year-old Marc  Yvens Dieubon and 8-year-old
Germanie Dieubon  will travel to Miami as soon as passports are issued
by the Haitian government. They have been staying with an aunt in
Port-au-Prince. The U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service said the
children will be allowed to live in the United States for 90 days while
their mother's political asylum claim is weighed. Rhinvil, 33, was
separated from her children after a smuggling boat from Haiti carrying
411 passengers ran aground about two miles off the Florida  coast on New
Year's Day.  "This is great news," said Cheryl Little, director of the
Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center, which represents Rhinvil. "These
children should have   been with their mother all along." Rhinvil, who
is four months pregnant, was one of four migrants brought  ashore for
medical treatment. Her children were returned to Haiti along with the
rest of the passengers. "This decision ends a frightening episode and
addresses a major wrong  that was done to this mother and her young
children," said Meek, a Democrat. INS officials said Coast Guard crew
members didn't realize Rhinvil had children with her when they took her
from the boat. Had they known, the separation would not have occurred,
both agencies have maintained. Pressure on the U.S. government to
reunite the family had been building since Rhinvil's case became public. 

  Thousands had protested U.S. handling of the case on Wednesday,       
carrying black-draped coffins to symbolize those who had died trying to
reach the United States. Haitian and African-American activists say they
are troubled by the contrast between the huge outcry over 6-year-old
Elian Gonzalez, the  Cuban migrant who was found adrift on Thanksgiving
Day, and the routine return of young Haitian migrants.  Under U.S.
policy, Haitians and others who arrive illegally are sent back,      
while the Cuban Readjustment Act of 1966 grants any Cuban who reaches
American soil the right to stay.