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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 


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 
with its
 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, 
enacted to
 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 
blessings of
 U.S. citizenship.

 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 
deporting the

 Unlike Elian Gonzalez, these children are all U.S. citizens. They've never 
been to
 Haiti and don't speak Creole. Often the best students, they are the future 
of their
 communities. And unlike Juan Miguel Gonzalez, these parents have been buying
 homes, working, paying taxes and going to church in the United States for 
five to
 20 years.

 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 
tear these
 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 
the right
 thing by suspending their deportations immediately, indefinitely and at the 
 level, pending an executive or legislative solution. Nothing prevents you 
from doing
 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 
stay with
 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.