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#1884: Haitian Kids To Be Reunited With Mom (fwd)


Monday January 17 11:20 PM ET 
 Haitian Kids To Be Reunited With Mom
 By MICHAEL NORTON Associated Press Writer 

 PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) - The two Haitian children still lack
passports, but they have a more valuable treasure: permission to join
their mother in Florida and, possibly, begin a new life far from the
privations of their native Haiti. Marc Yvens Dieubon, 9, and Germanie,
8, were typically polite and reserved as they waited Monday for exit
papers from the Haitian government. But they turned giddy when they
thought about their reunion with their mother, who is in a Florida
 hospital. ``You are always on my mind,'' was the message Germanie asked
to send to her mother. ``I am longing to see you again.'' The siblings
were separated from their mother, Yvena Rhinvil, after a smuggling boat
packed with 411 would-be migrants ran aground off the Florida coast on
Jan. 1. Rhinvil, 33, who is pregnant, was one of four people brought
ashore for medical treatment. Her children were left on the boat
 and were among the 407 people returned to Haiti. ``They took our mother
away. We cried, but nobody asked us why,'' said Marc, who along with his
sister rode in different section of the rickety vessel, squeezed
together so tightly that they had to sleep hunched over on a bench. They
hardly moved during the several days they spent at sea. The siblings
became the focus of an intense lobby by Haitian-Americans who contrasted
their plight with the immense attention given Elian Gonzalez, the
6-year-old Cuban boy at the center of an international custody dispute.
 Cuba's government is demanding that Gonzalez, rescued after a smuggling
accident off Florida, be returned to his father in Cuba. Gonzalez's
relatives in Miami, backed by Cuban-American exile leaders, are
demanding he be allowed to remain in the United States. The two cases
underscored what critics say is a double standard between Cubans and
others who seek refuge in the United States. Thanks to a 1966 law,
Cubans who reach shore usually are allowed to stay. Haitians and others
are usually repatriated unless they successfully navigate the complex
and difficult political asylum process. The U.S. Immigration and
Naturalization Service granted the children humanitarian parole on
Thursday. INS officials say U.S. Coast Guard officers didn't know
Rhinvil had children on board before they took her from the boat.
 Enthusiastically, Marc and Germanie showed off the English they'd
learned from Coast Guard officers. ``One, two, three, four,'' they
counted in proud and happy unison. Dark eyes gleaming, they rattled off
the numbers all the way to 10 in the offices of the National Coalition
for Haitian Rights, which has given them haven in an undisclosed
location. The identity and location of their father isn't known.
 Yvena Rhinvil has applied for political asylum, said Pierre Esperance,
director of the Haitian rights group. He said he was optimistic that she
will succeed.