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Fact Sheet
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
December 29, 2003

Haiti: Deterring Illegal Migration

The U.S. remains committed to legal immigration from Haiti. The U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince issued more than 66,000 immigrant visas since 1999.

However, deterring illegal migration is a top foreign policy objective. It is a threat to U.S. national security, and it poses a grave danger to those Haitians who attempt it.

The Department of State works with the U.S. Embassy/Port-au-Prince and U.S. federal agencies to stem the flow of illegal migrants. The Department of State works with the Government of Haiti and other Caribbean nations to curb illegal migration and alien smuggling and to facilitate interdiction and repatriation operations by the U.S. Coast Guard. In response to increased illegal migration in late 2001, the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince launched a vigorous public information campaign to discourage Haitians from attempting the dangerous journey by sea that can result in loss of life. These efforts, together with the fair, judicious, and expeditious enforcement of immigration laws by the Department of Homeland Security, help discourage illegal migration from Haiti. Given the threat illegal migration poses to national security, the United States supports sending a strong message to all foreign nationals that, consistent with international obligations and policies, the U.S. will continue to interdict and repatriate those who attempt illegal entry, absent valid protection claims.

Decisions on the terms and conditions of detention of illegal migrants in the U.S. are made by the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security’s Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and are outside the jurisdiction of the Department of State. The Department of State supports Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement policies that reinforce a foreign policy objective: to deter illegal migration from all countries, including Haiti.

Past mass migrations were triggered by shifts in U.S. policies that increased the perception boat migrants would be readily admitted into the United States. Therefore, the Department of State supports policies to minimize such perceptions and the risk of another mass migration from Haiti as well as from other countries.


Released on December 29, 2003