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#3604: Haitian deportation story only a rumor, INS says (fwd)


Published Saturday, May 13, 2000, in the Miami Herald 
 Haitian deportation story only a rumor, INS says
 Officials say Haitians who have applied for amnesty will not be
deported right away.--------By SANDRA MARQUEZ GARCIA 

 On talk shows, jitneys and restaurants in South Florida's Haitian
community, people are excitedly discussing a frightening tale of an
asylum-seeker who was arbitrarily detained and deported after he showed
up for his immigration hearing. The Immigration and Naturalization
Service wants to put a stop to that tall tale. ``It was a total rumor
and total fabrication,'' said Dan Kane, a spokesman for the
 agency in Washington, D.C. ``This is not -- nor will it be -- the way
that any INS office practices.'' Carlo Jean-Joseph, an immigration
lawyer in Lauderhill, said the panic kicked in after several Haitians'
amnesty claims were rejected on the spot at a Miami INS office May 4.
 ``I accompanied four of my clients. They were all denied: inadmissible,
 inadmissible, inadmissible, inadmissible,'' Jean-Joseph said. ``These
people can be deported. It's clear.'' The Haitian Immigration and
Fairness Act, passed by Congress in 1998 after Haitians were omitted
from a broader legislation for Nicaraguans and Cubans, was expected to
grant legal status to some 50,000 Haitians. But the law does not extend
to Haitians who entered the country with fraudulent passports -- dubbed
``plane people'' by advocates because most arrived by plane. ``The plane
people are being denied by INS,'' said Jean Robert Lafortune,
 chairman of the Haitian American Grassroots Coalition. ``Now there is a
fear that those people may go underground.'' Immigration officials are
trying to defuse the fear. They say Haitians who have applied for
amnesty will not be deported right away. They caution applicants not to
skip their interviews because this is their best chance to make their
case. ``It is extremely unlikely that someone who is interviewed will be
removed anytime in the next several months,'' Kane said. ``There is a
process in place, and every applicant who is denied will have their day
in court before an immigration judge.''