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U.S. Department
of State

Daily Press Briefing
Richard Boucher, Spokesman
Washington, DC
February 24, 2004

[ ... ]

QUESTION: In the Secretary's conversation with Foreign Minister Knight, did the issue of refugees from Haiti come up?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know if the issue specifically came up in that conversation. As you know, we have all been concerned about the situation of possible refugees. It's something that we have been following closely.

As far as the situation, I'd say that, at this point, we've not seen anything to indicate and do not expect any mass migration.

Our policy towards, with respect to boat migrants is clear: They'll be returned to the country they departed, absent convincing evidence of a credible fear of persecution. Our goal is to encourage legal, safe and orderly migration, not illegal and unsafe migration. I think others in the region know that's our policy as well.

QUESTION: So you don't see mass migration. But have you seen any uptick in the number of refugees leaving Haiti?

MR. BOUCHER: I think -- not that I'm aware of, is the short answer. You might check with Coast Guard and immigration as to whether they keep statistics on that fine a basis. But at this point, we're not seeing any indications, nor any examples of any mass migration, any new strong movement in that direction.

[ ... ]

[ End ]