Ashcroft claims Haitian refugees are actually Middle Eastern terrorists...
... the Bush admin's latest excuse for locking Haitian refugees up and/or letting them drown, I guess.
As you may recall, I've done quite a bit of blogging on the Bush admin's disgusting, discriminatory and inhumane treatment of Haitian refugees. The latest excuse for locking up Haitian refugees seeking asylum? They might be Middle Eastern terrorists! From the Miami Herald ("Diplomats puzzled by claim migrants use Haiti to enter U.S."):
U.S. consular officials are ''scratching our heads'' over U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft's claim that Pakistanis, Palestinians and others are using Haiti as a staging point for trying to get into the United States.Good question. More:
Ashcroft made the claim in a ruling Wednesday that Haitians need to be detained while they seek asylum. Among other reasons, Ashcroft cited national security concerns. A State Department declaration, he said, 'asserts that it has `noticed an increase in third country nations (Pakistanis, Palestinians, etc.) using Haiti as a staging point for attempted migration to the United States. This increases the national security interest in curing use of this migration route,' '' he wrote.
A spokesman for the State Department's Consular Service said his agency is puzzled by Ashcroft's comment. ''We all are scratching our heads,'' said spokesman Stuart Patt. 'We are asking each other, `Where did they get that?' ''
U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, D-Miami, who is on the House Homeland Security Committee, said he has not heard any evidence, testimony or briefing from the CIA or FBI indicating Haiti harbors or promotes terrorist groups or activities. ''This is outright discrimination and racism by this Bush administration. There is justice in America for everybody but Haitians,'' Meek said.I certainly wouldn't go that far. I don't think there is justice in America right now for plenty of immigrant (and non-immigrant!) groups, especially with the USA Patriot Act and the upcoming Patriot Act II (subject of my next cartoon, I think). But Haiti is the poorest country in the hemisphere, thanks in no small part to the economic and political manipulations of the U.S., and the U.S. has a history of treating Haitian refugees like dirt. Again from the Herald:
Miami Immigration attorney Ira Kurzban, who represents the Haitian government in the United States, said the ruling ``is part of a concerted plan involving the destruction of the Haitian people by creating the chaotic economic conditions in Haiti while forcing people to go back there.'and
Current U.S. policy calls for the detention of any foreign national -- except Cubans -- who arrive by sea without proper documents. Cubans are an exception because of the 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act, which allows Cubans who reach the United States to apply for residency one year and a day after their arrival.One final point: part of what is so puzzling about the claim that immigrants from the Middle East would try to use Haiti as a route into the U.S. is... it's a pretty dangerous and generally hopeless route. As the article notes:
A source close to the Haitian government, dismissing Ashcroft's claims, noted there is a long-standing Lebanese community in Haiti. The source did say, however, that Haitian government officials have received inquiries from Pakistanis asking how they can get visas to come to Haiti.Sigh... In other words, even if migrants from the Middle East want to get to the U.S. through Haiti, how does that make them terrorists?
Some may want to go on to the United States, but they aren't terrorists, the source said.
``They are just people like the Haitians, looking for increased economic opportunity and to improve their lifestyle. Why would a terrorist want to go through Haiti when chances are great they've got relatives in Dearborn, Mich., home to one of the largest Arab communities outside the Middle East?''