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[Congressional Record: June 20, 2002 (Extensions)]
[Page E1117-E1118]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access []

                           WORLD REFUGEE DAY


                          HON. CARRIE P. MEEK

                               of florida

                    in the house of representatives

                        Thursday, June 20, 2002

  Mrs. MEEK of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I rise today as we commemorate 
World Refugee Day and to bring attention to the desperate circumstances 
faced by Haitian refugees in South Florida.
  Life for very many people in Haiti has unfortunately been one of 
poverty, violence, and instability.
  According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), since 
early 2000, an increasing number of people have left Haiti due to 
persecution and violence, often associated with politics. Haitians have 
applied for asylum in increasing numbers in the Dominican Republic, 
Jamaica, and other countries.
  Mr. Speaker, the United States has had an unmatched history of 
welcoming immigrants and refugees to our shores, which is why our 
refusal to welcome more Haitian refugees is so especially troubling.
  In addition to the desperation, and the psychological and emotional 
trauma that Haitian refugees already must contend with, Haitian 
refugees who make it to the United States have long been subject to 
unfair and unequal treatment by the Immigration and Naturalization 
Service. Hundreds of Haitian refugees with well-founded pending asylum 
claims are currently being held at Turner Guilford Knight Correctional 
Facility--which is supposed to be used as a maximum-security prison--
and the Krome Avenue Detention Facility, in South Florida.
  Since December, the situation for Haitians seeking political asylum 
in this country has become markedly worse. The INS has been detaining 
Haitian asylum seekers before and while their appeals are considered, 
for extremely lengthy periods of time, while many other refugees are 
routinely paroled into the community.
  There is clear and overwhelming evidence which shows that Haitian 
refugees who come to our country seeking asylum are not treated the 
same as other refugee groups.
  Federal judges have long criticized the INS for its wholesale 
violations of the Haitians' fundamental legal rights. A reading of 
their decisions amply demonstrates that no other group of refugees has 
been treated with the blatant discrimination suffered by Haitian 
refugees during the past two decades.
  It is extremely divisive, in a diverse community like Miami where 
different ethnic groups live side-by-side, that similarly situated 
immigrant groups, like Cuban and Nicaraguan refugees are given such 
radically different treatment.
  Mr. Speaker, I have in my hand testimonials from Haitian detainees 
who are presently detained in the Turner-Guilford Knight Correctional 
Facility, and the Krome Avenue Detention Facility, and I ask that these 
be included in the Record. 

                         Translation of Letter

                           TGK, March 4 2002

       We are writing this letter today so we can explain thee 
     problems that we have been having since we left Haiti up 
     until now at TGK, We know that we were wrong to enter the 
     United States illegally, but we had to in order to save our 
     lives from the Lavalas members. When you think about it, we 
     were running away and what we found is worse. When we got 
     here, we thought that the Americans would understand us 
     because there are laws that protect victims of abuse and 
     torture. We did not leave our homes because of lack of food, 
     it was political problems that forced us to leave. What hurts 
     us more is that everyone we've spoken to has told us that 
     this is not the way Immigration usually treats asylum 
     seekers. When you look at it everyone from other nations that 
     have come to the United States under the same conditions as 
     us have been released in two or three days. We would like for 
     Immigration to have pity on us because we can no longer take 
     this. Some of us have been here for a period of time ranging 
     from one to three months and still are not able to get 
     released. This causes us a lot of sadness. Some of us have 
     developed high blood pressure, chest pain. Our biggest 
     problem right now is that all of us have some type of rash 
     even if we shower regularly. This might be due to the fact 
     that we get a change of uniform every fifteen days. We only 
     get a very small tube of tooth paste which we have to make 
     sure it lasts the required amount of days, which is not too 
     good for our breaths. We did not commit any crime and we are 
     treated like criminals. We can not even go outside to take a 
     breath of fresh air and get some sun. Sometimes while laying 
     down we think about our country, we can not sleep because our 
     families are still in Haiti where the Lavalas members do 
     whatever they want, setting people on fire, raping people. It 
     does not matter if you are involved in politics or not. 
     People always have to watch what they say, because they are 
     looking for reasons to kill you. Every time they want to kill 
     people they pretend there was a coup. It reminds us of what 
     happened on July 28 where 4 police officers were killed and a 
     cadet. December 17, 2001 they burned many houses in the 
     capital and the provinces. Many people died from gun shots 
     and some were buried alive also. Those people are always 
     preaching violence. In 1995 Rene Preval, Haiti's president at 
     the time came with a slogan stating that people need to do 
     whatever they have to in order to survive. Which incited 
     robbers to do whatever they wanted. In 2001 Aristide came 
     with another slogan stating there should be zero tolerance. 
     This slogan was against people who are not Lavalas partisans. 
     Many of us left our schools, universities and our jobs in 
     order for us to flee from the Lavalas group who is holding 
     our country in hostage. We arrived to the United States to 
     seek political asylum so we can have peace, freedom and 
     security but we were thrown in prison. None of the other 
     nations were kept in jail but us Haitians we are suffering. 
     We do not know why. We are neither criminals nor assassins. 
     Why does the INS imprison us. We ask President Bush to say 
     something in our favor especially when March 8 is National 
     Woman's Day. Have pity on us. Release us. Give us our freedom 
     as a gift so we can go and celebrate with all the other 
     women. We thank you in advance Mr. President.
       Here at TGK we go through a lot with certain officers and 
     the white detainees. Everything that they do gets blamed on 
     us. We are called ``Fuckin Haitians''. We are made fun of. 
     Several rumors stated that we were going to get deported. 
     Whenever that happens we become scared because we know how 
     things are in our country.
       Another one of our biggest problems is the food that we are 
     given. [The only thing we can eat is] bread twice a day, 
     around six or seven o'clock, we are given supper that 
     contains no salt and most of the time the meat or chicken is 
     spoiled and very bloody. Our health has deteriorated because 
     we do not eat well due to the fact that the food is awful, we 
     do not sleep well. One day one of us fainted since she was 
     feeling so feeble. Most of us have gotten sick. It is not 
     before we have filled out the clinic form seven or eight 
     times that we are able to go there and get medical attention. 
     For us who came on the boat and left Haiti on November 25, 
     2001 this was a big day for us because we escaped from 
     tribulation. After everything that we endured at sea we 
     thought that we would finally be delivered when we fall into 
     the hands of Americans. But they imprisoned us without 
     letting us go. Since every letter deserves an answer, we are 
     waiting for INS's because we can not go back to Haiti into 
     the Lavalas's hands.

                       CERTIFICATE OF TRANSLATION

       I, Sarnia Michel, certify that I am fluent in English and 
     Creole and that I translated the foregoing letter fully and 
     accurately from Creole to English.
                                                    Sarnia Michel.


          Statement of Haitian Asylum-Seeker Detained at Krome

                 Attempted Suicide--June 7 and 12, 2002

       My name is       . My A number is       . I am Haitian and 
     I arrived on the December 3rd boat. I've been in detention 
     here at Krome since I arrived.
       I tried to get asylum but the judge denied me. My cousin 
     got me a private attorney, but I don't remember his name. He 
     showed up for the hearing I had in February when I was 
     denied. I thought he was going to appeal my case, but at the 
     end of March I learned that he did not appeal and the due 
     date for my appeal had already gone by. I think my cousin 
     tried to find another private attorney to help me, but that 
     one never got back to him either. I don't know any of their 
       I became very depressed as the months went by because I am 
     still here in detention. I have nine children in Haiti who 
     depend on me and it is like they are imprisoned too because I 
     am here in detention and I can't help them at all.
       On June 2, 2002, I tried to hang myself. I thought I wanted 
     to die rather than stay here in Krome being humiliated 
     everyday. We're locked up in prison here. I kept thinking of 
     my kids, all my little kids, and how I'm here and locked up 
     and not going anywhere and how I can't do anything for them.

[[Page E1118]]

     I lost my case, they won't release us--and I don't think 
     they'll ever release us--and I'm not going anywhere. I don't 
     want to spend the rest of my life in prison and I can't help 
     anyone here. So I simply decided to kill myself.
       I found this tube in the bathroom that had fabric at the 
     end of it. I made a noose from the fabric. I had the noose 
     around my neck and I had my Bible. I was reading some 
     passages out loud from the Bible and just as I was about to 
     pull the noose to let myself hang and die, this other Haitian 
     detainee,        came in and saw me. He jumped and grabbed me 
     and held me and he told me to stop.
       Then some guards came and they took me to PHS, the medical 
     place, at Krome. They never took me to the hospital. The 
     doctor said he would treat me cautiously. He said they wanted 
     to take me to a place for people with mental problems. They 
     kept me at PHS for two days--from 7 am the day I tried to 
     hang myself until about 7 pm the following day. The doctor 
     who talked to me gave me some pills to help me sleep because 
     I can never sleep at night.
       I told the doctor not to send me to the place for people 
     with mental problems. I said I'm not sick. It's this place 
     that makes me sick. I just think of my kids, and think of how 
     I lost my case and how they want to keep me in prison 
     forever, and that's why I tried to kill myself. But I'm not 
     sick. They want to keep me in PHS but I told them I wanted to 
     be in general population so they let me go back.
       I'm back in the dorm now. No one treats me any differently. 
     I didn't get any further counseling after I was in PHS.
       I have a headache though that never stops. They won't give 
     me anything for it though, even though I make requests. I had 
     a problem where I was spitting up blood. I wrote a medical 
     request and they came back with a band-aid. I wrote them back 
     and asked what I was going to do with a band-aid when I'm 
     spitting up blood? They didn't respond and didn't help.
       That medication to help me sleep is the only one I'm on. A 
     doctor comes at 9 pm each night and gives it to me. I don't 
     know what it's called. It doesn't matter because it doesn't 
     really work anyway. It doesn't help me sleep. At night when I 
     can't sleep I think about all my children in Haiti. I can't 
     get up to walk around, I just sit and think. I don't think I 
     even need this medicine since it's not helping me sleep and 
     I'm not sick.
       Krome is a prison, There's not enough recreation--it's only 
     about a half hour each day--and we're just all locked in. 
     Sometimes there's no chair and we have to sit on the floor 
     because it's so crowded. There are about 92 to 94 people in 
     my dorm. I have a regular bunk but there are also cots 
     because there are so many people.
       It's not so much that I had problems with the guards or 
     with other detainees, I was just very depressed because I'm 
     still locked up like this. And knowing that I can't help my 
     kids is really hard for me.
       I left Haiti because I did have problems in       . But I 
     feel like I came here and found bigger problems because they 
     want to keep us in prison forever here. They won't tell us 
     when we can leave.


                      Haitian Asylum Seeker, Krome

        Wife and Child Transferred to Pennsylvania--May 7, 2002

       My name is       . My ``A'' number is       . I arrived on 
     the boat with my common-law wife,       , and my son,       , 
     on December 3, 2001.
       I was immediately separated from my family when we arrived. 
     I have been detained at Krome since December. My family was 
     taken to the hotel.
       I saw my family maybe three or four times when they were at 
     the hotel. We were allowed to see each other in the 
     visitation area when they came for court.
       About a week and a half ago, I called our sponsor. Our 
     sponsor told me my wife and child were transferred to 
     Pennsylvania. No officer or anyone from INS has talked to me 
     about where my family is or that they were transferred. I 
     don't know how to contact them there. I don't know when they 
     were transferred, my sponsor just said that they're now in 
       I can't say if what's happened to my family is fair or not. 
     We're in jail, and we're not in control of our situation, 
     it's up to them [INS] what to do with us. Since we're locked 
     up they can do whatever they want. Only God knows why they 
     sent my family there.
       We came to this country to escape political problems in my 
     country. But I was expecting better treatment than this. I 
     just depend on God to help us out of this.
       My health is ok, but sometimes I get very depressed because 
     we've been locked up for so long.
       I just follow instructions and do what I'm told here so I 
     don't have any problems with the officers here. I'm not 
     arrogant and I don't make problems for anyone.
       Krome is really overcrowded. Even with the Haitians who 
     came at the airport getting released, it's still too crowded. 
     There were 92 people in my pod yesterday; one left last night 
     and one left this morning, but there have also been three new 
     people. They have brought cots in for people to sleep on 
     because there aren't enough beds.