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U.S. Department of State U.S. Policy Toward Haiti

Marc Grossman, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs
Testimony Before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Washington, DC
July 15, 2003

As prepared

[ ... ]

Fourth, illegal migration is an important U.S. security concern. We want to deter illegal migration while treating migrants in a fair and humane fashion. And we support legal migration from Haiti: approximately 15,000 immigrant visas are issued to Haitians every year.

Illegal migration from Haiti is very sensitive to changes or perception of changes in U.S. policies regarding repatriation and parole into the community pending resolution of asylum claims.

For example, in November 1991, a month after the coup that removed President Aristide from power, Haitians took to the seas in an effort to reach the United States. U.S. policy at the time was not clearly established -- most were taken to Guantanamo Bay for asylum processing but about one-third were paroled into the U.S. The result was a wave of Haitian migrants, nearly 38,000 from the end of 1991 to June 1992.  After the first President Bush ordered the direct repatriation of boat migrants, almost all of whom were found to be intending economic migrants, not political refugees, the number dropped to 2,404.

We support Department of Homeland Security policies designed to deter illegal migration from Haiti by promptly repatriating migrants interdicted at sea who have no legitimate fear of persecution and by detaining those who are successful in reaching the U.S. while their claims are processed.

The Department of Homeland Security interviews all migrants, whether interdicted at sea or detained in the U.S., who establish a credible fear of persecution, to determine whether or not they have a well-founded fear of persecution. People detained in the U.S. who meet the well-founded fear threshold are granted asylum here; those who are interdicted at sea and are found to require protection are resettled in third countries.

These policies have been successful in deterring migrant flows, which have leveled off to approximately 1,300 to 1,400 per year over the past 3 years while providing protection to those who need it.

[ ... ]

[ End ]