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ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU NEWS RELEASE * NEWS RELEASE * NEWS RELEASE * NEWS RELEASE Shipboard Processing of Asylum Claims By Haitian Refugees: Statement of Lucas Guttentag, Director ACLU National Immigrants Rights Project, For IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 15, 1994 "With the government preparing to begin shipboard processing of the asylum claims of Haitian refugees, the American Civil Liberties Union calls on the House Subcommittee on International Law, Immigration, and Refugees, which conducts hearings today, to recognize the profound shortcomings of the Clinton Administration's plan. We believe the unchecked brutality and political persecution in Haiti warrant granting temporary safe haven to all Haitians interdicted at sea. Short of that simple solution, the Administration must assure that Haitians recieve a meaningful opportunity to present their claims. "The Administration should not continue to discriminate against Haitian refugees by applying a higher standard for Haitians than for nationals of the former Soviet Union and designated Southeast Asian countries. It should also allow volunteer lawyers to represent refugees in their claims, use only qualified Asylum Officers to make these life-or-death decisions and permit Haitians with a credible fear of persecution to come to the United States, where they could present their claims with the assistance of a volunteer attorney. "The interdiction and shipboard processing of Haitian refugees appears deliberately designed to deny Haitians the procedural safeguards they would receive if their claims were heard in the United States. For example, the Administration has said that even volunteer attorneys, willing to represent Haitian refugees at no expense to the government, will not be allowed. The only explanations offered have been the logistical constraints of the processing site and the supposed absence of counsel in overseas refugee interviews. In fact, lawyers are not prohibited overseas and logistical considerations should not dictate the legal rights of refugees when minor changes could mean the difference between life or death. "The ACLU urges the Administration to give the same consideration to Haitians fleeing repression and who, if forcibly repatriated, face possible torture or death, as the United States grants to all other refugees and asylum applicants. Principles of equal treatment and humanitarian protection demand no less." --endit-- ============================================================= ACLU Free Reading Room | A publications and information resource of the gopher:// | American Civil Liberties Union National Office | | "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty"


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