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U.S. Department
of State

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
February 27, 2004

Press Briefing by Scott McClellan
The James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

[ ... ]

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus are calling for a change in the immigration laws. Would the President favor something that would give the Haitian boat people the same kind of status as the Cuban boat people?

MR. McCLELLAN: Our policy on boat migrants remains the same. It has not changed. And the President has made it very clear that we have a plan in place to return migrants to their country of origin if they seek to leave. And that's exactly what is going on right now with the Coast Guard.

Obviously, in that process, safety is a high priority. And I think that you're seeing that the Coast Guard is taking that into account. Again, our efforts remain focused on finding a political solution. We are also working with our international partners to make sure the Haitian people are getting the humanitarian assistance that they need during this difficult period.

Q Scott, for a long time, this has been considered unequal, Haitian boat people versus the Cuban boat people. And many people are looking at it as racial. You would not, because of this, at all, you would not --

MR. McCLELLAN: You have heard the President talk about making sure we have a consistent policy when it comes to migrants. And in terms of Haitians -- the Haitian people, our migration policy remains the same.

[ ... ]

[ End ]