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Seagoing Illegal Migrants Will Face Fast Turnaround

November 09, 2002|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Bush administration announced Friday that Haitians and others who attempt to enter the U.S. illegally by sea will be detained and subject to an expedited process to send them home.

An Immigration and Naturalization Service statement said that even a perception of rules being relaxed could spur a mass migration that threatens national security.

"Any message that may encourage a mass migration and detract federal resources from our homeland defense is unacceptable," the statement says.

Although Justice Department officials said the move was made under existing authority, immigration activists said it marked a change in that most Haitians no longer will be able to go free on bond while awaiting the outcome of asylum cases.

"This is terribly disappointing," said Cheryl Little, an immigration advocate in Miami. "Our government is changing the rules so they can justify discriminatory treatment of Haitians."

The INS statement says illegal migrants will get expedited removal proceedings and will probably be detained during appeals at the discretion of the Justice Department. This applies to anyone arriving illegally by sea except Cubans, who are exempt under a 1966 law.

The statement comes after the Oct. 29 arrival in Key Biscayne, Fla., of 211 Haitians and three Dominicans who waded to shore after their boat ran aground. The INS is appealing bonds many were granted, which would allow them to go free until an asylum hearing is held.

The statement says the intent of the bond appeals and the administration policy is to discourage mass migration by sea to the U.S. and to prevent key Coast Guard and Defense Department assets from being diverted to deal with the arrival of more boats.

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