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#1983: Haitian leaders in Miami press for INS changes (fwd)
Haitian leaders in Miami press for INS changes
06:01 p.m Jan 23, 2000 Eastern By Margarita Martin-Hidalgo
MIAMI, Jan 23 (Reuters) - Haitian community leaders in Florida on
Sunday vowed to continue fighting what they call an unfair U.S.
immigration policy one day after a Haitian immigrant and her children
were reunited in Miami. `We would like refugees who are coming to our
shores seeking refuge to be brought to shore and be allowed to make
their case in court,'' said Marleine Bastien, president of the Haitian
Women of Miami. On Saturday, supporters of changing the law celebrated
the reunion of Yvena Rhinvil and her two children, who were sent back to
Haiti while she was being treated in a Miami hospital. A delegation
including U.S. Representative Carrie Meek of Florida and her son,
Florida Sen. Kendrick Meek, delivered Marc Dieubon, 9, and Germanie
Dieubon, 8, to Rhinvil, who is pregnant, following a three-week battle
with U.S. authorities. Rhinvil and her children were among 407 Haitian,
Dominican and Chinese immigrants aboard a 60-foot (20-meter) freighter
that ran aground off the coast of Miami on New Year's Day. The U.S.
Immigration and Naturalisation Service (INS) made a swift decision to
send all but Rhinvil and three other women back to Haiti. That move,
occurring at the same time as an international custody dispute over
6-year-old Cuban shipwreck survivor Elian Gonzalez infuriated Miami's
Haitian community and led to demonstrations against U.S. policy.
Most Haitians seeking a better life in Florida are returned to their
homeland, the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere with the average
per capita annual income of about $250. On the other hand, the U.S.
``wet foot/dry foot'' policy on Cuban immigrants allows them to remain
in the United States if they reach dry land.
``We have asked (Attorney General) Janet Reno to review the two
policies,'' Cheryl Little, Rhinvil's attorney said. ``If they
are intercepted by the Coast Guard they should have their day
in court.'' Reno agreed to allow Rhinvil's children to return to
Miami to be with their mother while her claim for asylum is being
considered. Rhinvil's asylum hearing is set for Feb. 25.