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2303: Sign-on letter for Haitian Refugees (fwd)

From: Merrill Smith <advocacy@bellatlantic.net>

The following letter is being circulated by Steven Forester of the Equal
Treatment Coalition to gather endorsements. 

If you wish to endorse it, please respond directly to Mr. Forester at
<stevenforester@aol.com>. He is not a member of the Corbett list.


February 11, 2000

Hon. U. S. Representatives Carrie Meek, John Conyers, Peter Deutsch,
Alcee Hastings, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and Lincoln Diaz-Balart and
Senators Graham, Mack, Abraham, and Kennedy: 

We salute you, our champions.  The proposed legislation to extend the
HRIFA filing deadline is essential and crucial.   But as our January 7,
10, and 24 letters and the January 31 Miami Herald editorial  indicate,
this could be a Pyrrhic victory if INS's imminently-expected final HRIFA
rule does not rectify two main regulatory flaws which have prevented
well over twenty thousand deserving and eligible persons from applying
since June:  the omission of 10,000 "airplane refugees" -- 3,000 of whom
have US-born children -- and the lack of a family fee cap.

It appears that the final rule will not remedy these HRIFA-jeopardizing
failures.  Unless it does, the "airplane refugees" will be excluded no
matter how much time they have in which to file, with devastating
consequences to their children and families, and thousands more won't be
able to afford the astronomical costs of applying.  See the examples
contained in our January 7 letter.

We correctly made Raoul Wallenberg an honorary US citizen for helping
the persecuted escape Nazi-occupied Hungary with phony documents, and
our law recognizes that asylum seekers often have no choice but to use
such documents.  This applies to the "airplane escapees."  US Coast
Guard interdiction from 1981 through most of 1994 repatriated virtually
everyone.  What was the 47-year old union activist to do - get in a boat
to be immediately repatriated into the hands of the military that had
just shot him?  That would have been suicide.  (Nicaraguans, luckily,
don't face this problem for lack of an ocean and Coast Guard

Are these 10,000 to be deported or go underground?  And what about their
US-citizen children?
These children are Americans.  Must they choose between their futures
and their parents, to stay with whom they would have to go to Haiti,
forfeiting the sacred blessings of American birth, education, and
citizenship?  (They speak little if any Creole.)  Or are they to bid
their parents goodbye?  Either choice would be devastating.  Are we that
kind of nation?

Unless there is a family fee cap, as for Salvadorans and Guatamalans,
the huge fees and costs will prevent thousands from applying even if the
deadline is extended, defeating HRIFA's purpose and generating no INS
fees from them.  That would be senseless and unfair and perpetuate the
decades of discrimination HRIFA was enacted to finally, if partially,

These issues effect about 28,000 applicants and are soluble, the first
by applying the so-called "fraud" waiver, dropping that charge, or
otherwise.  But DOJ has not indicated it will do so. 

We therefore respectfully turn to you, our champions, to act decisively
to save HRIFA and the justice and equity it embodies by contacting the
President and Vice-President, Attorney General Reno, Deputy Attorney
General Holder, Associate Deputy Attorney General Castello, and INS
Commissioner Meissner and/or by taking all other action as you deem

We need you.  Thank you for your consideration and God Bless you.


Steven David Forester, Esq.
Coordinator (305) 754-8834


Steven David Forester, Esq., Coordinator, Equal Treatment Coalition

Marleine Bastien, President, Haitian Women of Miami, Inc. (FANM)

Leonie Hermantin, Executive Director, Haitian American Foundation, Inc.

Jean Robert Lafortune, Chairperson, Haitian-American Grassroots

Dr. Rudolph Moise, President Comprehensive Health Center [Dr. Moise
chairs the Haitian Affairs Committee, Greater Miami-Dade Chamber of

Gepsie Metellus, Director of Public Affairs, Office of the Honorable Dr.
Barbara M. Carey, Miami-Dade County Commissioner District 3

Carline Paul, Executive Director, Haitian-American Youth of Tomorrow,

Aude Sicard, President, Haitian-American Women's Alliance, Inc.

Dr. Antoine Auguste, Executive Director, Little Haiti Housing

Raymond Emmanuel, President, Haitian-American Community Broadcasting

Raymond Laurent, Community Liaison and Radio Program Coordinator, Unite
for Dignity

Janet R. McAliley, former President, Dade County School Board, and Board
Member, Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center (FIAC)

Monsignor Bryan O. Walsh, Director Emeritus, Catholic Charities,
Archdiocese of Miami

Joseph S. Geller, Esq., Chairman, Miami-Dade County Democratic Party and
Vice-President, American Jewish Congress, Southeast Region

Max J. Castro, Ph.D., Senior Research Associate, The Dante B. Fascell
North-South Center, University of Miami

John Due, Esq., Counsel, Miami-Dade Branch, National Association for the
Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)

Bill Perry, former President of the Miami-Dade Branch of the  NAACP and
of the South Florida Chapter of Operation PUSH

Jack M. Karako, Executive Director, American Jewish Congress, Southeast

Monica Russo, Executive Director, Unite for Dignity
Bernard P. Perlmutter, Esq., Director, Children & Youth Law Clinic,
University of Miami School of Law

Brother Edward van Merrienboer, O.P., Academic Dean, St. John Vianney
College Seminary

Paul D. Breitner, Esq., Board Member and Chairperson, Commission on Law
and Social Action, American Jewish Congress, Southeast Region

Randy McGrorty, Esq., Supervising Attorney, Catholic Charities Legal
Services, Archdiocese of Miami

Florida State Representative Willie Logan

William A. Ramos, Director of Policy and Legislation, Office of the
Honorable Dr. Barbara M. Carey, Miami-Dade County Commissioner District

Cheretha Berrieum, President, Concerned African Women

Kim Porter, Director of Development, Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center

Stanley M. Pred, Esq., Board Member, American Civil Liberties Union,
Miami Chapter

Professor Gwen Thayer Handelman, Scholar in Residence, Shepard Broad Law
Center, Nova Southeastern University

Robert Eli Rosen, Professor of Law, University of Miami School of Law
and Vice-President, American Jewish Congress, Southeast Region

Jonathan Fried, Board Member, American Jewish Congress, Southeast
Region, former Executive Director, American Friends Service Committee,
and Labor and Human Services Consultant 

Leonard Kaminsky, Board Member, American Jewish Congress, Southeast
Region and former Director, Haitian-American Legal Defense and Education

Peter M. Upton, Esq., Board Member, Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center
(FIAC) and former Staff Attorney, American Friends Service Committee
[Mr. Upton now practices in Indiantown, FL.]

Charles M. Baron, Esq., Board Member, American Jewish Congress,
Southeast Region

Helen L. Scarr, MHSA, Associate Director, Department of Market
Development & Health Care Contracting, University of Miami Health

Alison Austin, Vice-President, Rainforest Media and Tourism Consulting,

Edline Clermont, Vice-President, Haitian Women of Miami, Inc. (FANM)
Lavarice Gaudin, Vice-Chairperson, Haitian-American Grassroots Coalition

John Handelman, Ph.D.

Ronald Haber, Esq.

Pamela A. Chamberlin, Esq.


Bishop Thomas J. Gumbleton, Auxiliary Bishop, Archdiocese of Detroit

Dr. Karen S. Davis, Ph.D., Head, Humanities Department, Marygrove
College, Detroit, MI

Dr. Jean Alce, M.D. [Mr. Alce chairs both the Michigan Committee for a
Democratic Haiti and Espoir, a Haitian American cultural organization,
and is a board member of both the Cranbrook Peace Foundation and the
Movement for the Development of Jacmel (MODELAJ).], Detroit, MI

Emily C. Hall, Esq. [Ms. Hall chairs the Fair Housing Center of
Metropolitan Detroit and is a member of the Detroit Police Sixth
Precinct Community Relations Council Board.], Detroit, MI
Noel J. Saleh, Esq.  [Mr. Saleh vice-chairs both the Arab Community
Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS) and the Fair Housing
Center of Metropolitan Detroit.], Detroit, MI

Nicholas J. Rine, Professor of Law, Asylum and Refugee Law Clinic,
University of Michigan Law School, Ann Arbor, MI

Pierre Marquette, Coordinator, Refugee Programs, Catholic Charities,
Archdiocese of Boston, Boston, MA

Marie Jo Luc, Coordinator, Committee for the Defense of Immigrants
(CDI), Boston, MA

Dan Kesselbrenner, Executive Director, National Immigration Project of
the National Lawyers Guild, Boston, MA

Michael P. Ray, Esq., President, American Immigration Lawyers
Association (AILA), South Florida Chapter

Marie Estime Thompson, Esq., President, Haitian Lawyers Association

Jacques Despinosse, President, Haitian American Democratic Club 

Edwige Romulus, Chairperson, Haitian-American Support Group of Central
Florida, Inc., Orlando, FL

Reverend Jean Fritz Bazin, Chairperson, Haitian American Christian
Council and Pastor, St. Paul and the Martys of Haiti Episcopal Church

Reverend Jonas George, Director, Society for Haitian Advancement,
Recognition, and Education (SHARE)

Dr. Laurinus Pierre, M.D., M.P.H., Executive Director, Center for
Haitian Studies

Robert Arrieux, Executive Director, Haitian Center for Family Services,
West Palm Beach, FL 

Daniella Henry, Director, Haitian American Community Council, Inc.,
Delray Beach, FL

Jean-Claude Exulien, Director, Center for Orientation and Information

Jean-Claude P. Cantave, President, Haitian American Center for Economic
and Public Affairs, Inc. (HACEPA)

Elisson Toussaint, Vice-President, Haitian American Christian Society of
St. Vincent de Paul 

Clarel Cyriaque, Esq., past President, Haitian Lawyers Association

Roger E. Biamby, former Executive Director, Haitian American Community
Association of Dade County (HACAD)

Florence Elie, Program Director, Youth and Family, Haitian Center for
Family Services, West Palm Beach, FL

Fitzgerald Limontas, Program Director, County Social Services, Haitian
Center for Family Services, West Palm Beach, FL

Sandra Moreau, Chairperson, Membership and Registration, Young
Minorities in Action

Candace L. Jean, Esq.

Samuel J. Kaufman, Esq. [Mr. Kaufman is an Assistant Public Defender,
16th Judicial District.], Key West, FL

(Signatories and endorsers reside in Miami or environs unless otherwise

Merrill Smith
Haiti Advocacy, Inc.
1309 Independence Avenue SE
Washington DC 20003-2302
(202) 544-9084
(202) 547-2952 fax