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#3529: 5/5 MHerald op-ed, "Protect 5,000 American Children, Don't Deport Parents" (fwd)
J. Reno can and must suspend deportations and proceedings against these
parents. McCalla discussion Sunday w/Jesse Jackson should so inform. See
The following appeared on the op-ed page of Friday's Miami Herald and is
copied from its web-page:
Published Friday, May 5, 2000, in the Miami Herald
STEVEN D. FORESTER
PROTECT 5,000 AMERICAN CHILDREN Don't deport parents
They implore Janet Reno to apply her rationale in Elian's case: a
child's need to
be with his parent.
Steven D. Forester, a lawyer, is coordinator of the Equal Treatment
Stetson University's College of Law in St. Petersburg will honor him today
2000 Wm. Reece Smith Jr. Public Service Award.
Dear Attorney General Janet Reno:
On April 7, via ABC's Nightline, you met Rickerson Moise, a U.S.-born 6-year
child whose parents the U.S. Justice Department is about to deport to Haiti.
is in violation of the Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act of 1998,
remedy decades of discrimination against Haitian refugees.
Rickerson was tired, and there was little time. So he stood next to me while
questioned you. He wasn't able to tell you how much he loves and needs his
parents, who were in the audience. Nor could they address you. They had
from Delray Beach to tell you that they don't want you to rip them away from
Rickerson or force them to bring him to Haiti, depriving him of the
These families -- the Moises; Esta Pierre, her husband and their 6-year old,
and Marie France, her husband, and their 5-year old, Ronald -- would like to
you. They represent 3,000 similarly situated parents with 5,000 American
and ask that you not destroy their children's lives and families by
Unlike Elian Gonzalez, these children are all U.S. citizens. They've never
Haiti and don't speak Creole. Often the best students, they are the future
communities. And unlike Juan Miguel Gonzalez, these parents have been buying
homes, working, paying taxes and going to church in the United States for
They implore you to apply the rationale that you enunciate in Elian's case:
need for a child to be with his parent. Surely it would be an outrage to
Haitian-American families asunder.
Please suspend immediately, for at least 24 months, the deportations of those
10,000 Haitian refugees and make them ``admissible'' under HRIFA.
Low-level Immigration and Naturalization Service officials say that HRIFA
cover those refugees. They're wrong. But even if they're right, you can do
thing by suspending their deportations immediately, indefinitely and at the
level, pending an executive or legislative solution. Nothing prevents you
that -- and morality requires it.
That's what these families want to ask you in a meeting.
Just as with Elian, it is equally important for 5,000 American children to
their mothers and fathers. But despite seeking your attention for a year,
never received so much as a phone call from any Justice Department official.
In Elian's case, the Justice Department moved heaven and Earth to unite one
Cuban boy with his father. In ours, for some reason, the department wants to
separate 5,000 American boys and girls from their mothers and fathers. Why?
Thus they and I ask:
Suspend the deportations of these parents, and of all pre-1996 Haitian
arrivals whom Congress meant to cover in HRIFA and who entered illegally to
avoid the Coast Guard, which was handing boat people back to their
Apply HRIFA constitutionally. The pre-1996 law granted a virtually automatic
waiver to the parents of U.S.-born children. It is unconstitutional not to
apply it to
Instruct your subordinates to make admissible under HRIFA all Haitians who
forced by Coast Guard interdiction to enter the United States illegally
1981 and 1994. It would have been suicide for them to flee any other way.
We don't need you to put the Justice Department on hold, drop everything
spend millions of dollars or repeatedly declare your commitment to family
We just need you to be consistent -- to pay as much attention to 5,000
kids as one Cuban child. The Justice Department is about to destroy their
They need their parents as much as Elian needs his father.
We await your reply.