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Mc Nary v. Haitian Centers Council
ACLU Calls Upon President Clinton to Renounce
"Kennebunkport Order" In Spite of Supreme Court's Decision
For IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 21, 1993
The American Civil Liberties Union decried the decision handed down
today by the U.S. Supreme Court in McNary v. Haitian Centers Council.
Today's decision reverses last summer's holding by the Second Circuit
Court of Appeals that President Bush's "Kennebunkport Order" violated the
Refugee Act of 1980. The Order, in a sharp departure from earlier
practice, instructed the Coast Guard forcibly to return all Haitians,
including bona fide refugees, to Haiti without any inquiry into their
reasons for fleeing.
McNary v. Haitian Centers Council was initiated shortly after
President Bush issued the order by a team of legal organizations,
including the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project, the Lowenstein
International Human Rights Clinic at Yale Law School, the Center for
Constitutional Rights, the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights-San
Francisco, and the law firm of Simpson, Thacher and Bartlett.
In its 8-1 decision, the Supreme Court held that the President's
power to intercept and repatriate undocumented aliens was not limited by
either the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 or the U.N. Convention
Relating to the Status of Refugees. While the Court recognized the "moral
weight" of the ACLU's argument that the spirit of the Convention was to
prevent the repatriation of "refugees to their potential oppressors", it
held that as a technical matter, the Convention "was not intended to have
extraterritorial effect" and that therefore the policy was legal.
Although the Supreme Court has upheld the legality of the
Kennebunkport Order, Lucas Guttentag, Director of the ACLU's Immigrants'
Rights Project has called upon President Clinton to abandon the policy he
once condemned as "cruel." "President Clinton vowed to keep the Bush
policy in place for only a temporary period of time," Guttentag said.
"His efforts to restore democracy in Haiti have so far resulted in only
greater confusion and frustration. The time to renounce the interdiction
program and give protection to bona fide refugees is long overdue."
Guttentag also pointed out that the Court's decision, "sends a
message to the rest of the world that the U.S. will implement
international refugee protections only when it is convenient. As a result
of this decision," he continued, "the U.S. claims the legal authority to
directly assist the military dictators in Haiti by returning political
refugees to their persecutors."
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