Refugee Policy Adrift: The United States and Dominican Republic Deny Haitians Protection

Wednesday, January 1, 2003
Women's Commission for Refugee Women and Children

Haitians are witnessing the collapse of their country's nascent democracy as political violence and human rights abuses escalate. As a result, the United States and Caribbean countries may soon face another Haitian refugee crisis. As has been the case during past crises, however, there is no meaningful refugee protection for Haitians in the region. Thus far, the response of receiving countries—including the United States and the DominicanRepublic—has been to adopt measures designed to prevent Haitian asylum seekers from accessing asylum procedures. In the United States, the White House is clearly the driving force behind a discriminatory policy aimed specifically at Haitian asylum seekers. Several executive agencies—including the Department of State, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), the Executive Office for Immigration Review, and the Coast Guard— have been instructed to implement measures that undermine the ability of Haitian asylum seekers to obtain refugee protection. The Dominican government, in turn, has neglected its obligation to identify Haitian refugees and ensure they are provided full protection and adequate assistance.

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