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Needed: A Comprehensive Solution for Cuban Refugees

Needed: A Comprehensive Solution for Cuban Refugees

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Published by Bill Frelick
Written in early 1995 at the time the US safe haven for Haitians at Guantanamo was coming to an end, and the US government was trying to decide what to do about the Cubans also being held there, where the situation in Cuba, unlike that in Haiti at the time, was not close to any resolution. Frelick examines the Southeast Asian Comprehensive Plan of Action as a possible model for Cuban refugees.
Written in early 1995 at the time the US safe haven for Haitians at Guantanamo was coming to an end, and the US government was trying to decide what to do about the Cubans also being held there, where the situation in Cuba, unlike that in Haiti at the time, was not close to any resolution. Frelick examines the Southeast Asian Comprehensive Plan of Action as a possible model for Cuban refugees.

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Published by: Bill Frelick on Jul 25, 2012
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eportandanalysisof
immigrationandnationalitylaw
Vol.72,No.4
JamW
Y23,1995]
INTHISISSUE
NEEDED:ACOMPREHENSIVESOLUTIONFORCUBANREFUGEES,by
Bill
Frelick121
1.
U.S.NowRepatriatingHaitiansat
Guantanamo
1292.SeventhCircuitRulesTemporaryResidenceCountsfor
§
212(c)Purposes1293.DistrictCourtGrantsWritofAUditaQuerelaVacatingCriminal
Conviction
132
4.
LaborDept.PublishesNewLaborConditionApplicationForm1335.LaborDept.Implements"AlaskaException"forLongshoreWorkers134
6.
INSClarifiesTechnicalCorrectionsAmendmenttoFamilyUnityProvisions....1347.INSInstructsonPhilippineVetNaturalizations1358.INS
Instructs
onFeesforH-2B
Temporary
Workers1369.ChiefImmigrationJudgeDiscussesOSCDelays136
10.
INSDiscussesPossibilityofPilotRepresentationProgramatPortIsabelServiceProcessingCenter13711.ORRAnnouncesRefugeeAssistanceGrantPrograms13812.Seminar138
oj;
BillFrelickisaseniorpolicyanalystwiththeU.S.CommitteeforRefugeesandco-editorofRefugeeReports.
FederalPublicationsInc.
112020111SI.NW.S,"le
500
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NEEDED:ACOMPREHENSIVESOLUTIONFORCUBANREFUGEESbyBillFrelick*DuringavisittotheU.S.navalbaseat
Guantanamo
Bay,CubainOctober1994,themarinecommanderresponsiblefortheCubancampsdescribedthesituation
to
measakintostandingatabrokenstoveandtryingtokeepapotofwaterfromboilingover.Theflameisonhighandcannotbeturneddown.Thepotcannotberemoved
from
thestove.Allhecando,thecommandersaid,istokeepshovelingiceintothepottotrytokeepthetemperature
down.!
TheriotsintilePanamacampsinDecembershowthatthefrustrationamongtheCubandetaineeshasalreadyboiledover.
2
TheU.S.hasrespondedwithabeefed-upmilitarypresence;ithasnot
turned
downtheheat.Inevitably,thisraisesthequestionofhowmuchlongerourgovernmentcanpursue
a
policyofsuppressingthedetainees'expressionsofangerwithoutofferingreasonableoptionsforapermanentsolutiontotheirplight.The
U.S.
hasusedtheexperiencewithHaitianboatpeopleasamodelforitsCubanpolicy.Thereis,however,anothermodelthatmaybemoreappropriateinthelongterm.CubaandHaiti;ParallelsandDifferencesTheCubancampsin
Guantanamo
andPanamahaveaparticulargenesis.InAugust1994,closeontheheelsofthe
Haitian
refugeeexodus,twice
as
manySeeFrelick,"U.S.SafeHavenCampsinCubaandPanama-AStudyinContrasts,"XVRefugeeReports14(Oct.27,1994).
2
See
NewYorkTimes,
Dec.12,1994,at
A2;
Dec.
9,
1994,atAI.121
AllllOugllpreparedbyexperts,Iiiis
newsletter
isgeneralizcdand
sliould
notbeconsideredasubsmute101professionaladviceinspeciticsituations.
Copyligl;l
q)
1995Fed~;al
Pubi;ali~,;sIllc.
AIiri9~I~dN~p;rt-;;;U;;;
publicalionmayberepronuceo,sioledinarellievalsystem.oltransmilled.inallYIOllnor
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personal
useis
glanledIhlOugllIheCopyriglllClearanceCenter(CCG)10/$2
PCI
page,10bepaiddirecllytoGGC,
222
RoseWOOd
Olive.
Suite
910,
Dam'e!S,
MA
01923.
FeeCode:
0020·
96861951$0+$2
INTERPHETER
IiELEASES
{ISSN0020,9686)ispublishedweekly(excepltilethirdweeksinFcilwil'Y
Wid
June,~l1dthelastweeKSillNovember
al1(l
Oecember)by
Fcdolill
P/lillicaliolls
Inc..
P.O.Box
5021.
Brenlwood.
TN37024·5021.
Al1l1/1alSu/)scriplion
$498.SOC
OI1(J.ci(ISS
posliigep<Jidal
8rentwood.TN.
POSTMASTERScmlad[ilcsS
chal1gos10INTERPRETER
nELEflSES!SunbcilFlillilinwill
Services,
P.O.
Box5021.
Brenlwood.
TN37024-5021.
 
72INTERPREI'ERRELEASES
Cubansbeganfleeingtheircountryinrafts.3ByAugust18,some8,237CubanshadbeenpickedupbytheU.S.CoastGuardandbroughttotheU.S.,wheretheywereallowedtofollowthewell-establishedpatternofbeingpermittedtoenterand,underthetenusoftheCubanAdjustmentAct,allowedtoadjusttopermanentresidentstatusafteroneyear.ByAugust19,however,withtheHaitianmodelforrespondingtoamassexoduscloseathand,theClintonadministrationdecidedtodetaintheCubansin"safehaven"camps,as
it
hadfortheHaitians.Reversingathree-decadepolicyofpresumingeveryCubanrafter
to
befleeingpoliticaloppressionandwelcomingthemtotheU.S.,PresidentClintonsaid,"Today
1
haveorderedthatillegalrefugeesfromCubawillnotbeallowed
to
entertheUnitedStales."4Cubanrafters,includingsomewhoputouttoseabeforetheU.S.changeditsopen-doorpolicy,foundthemselvesbehindthesamebarbedwireandguardtowersastheHaitians.NotonlywastheCubansafehavenmodeledontheHaitians',buttheactualsiteofthefirstCubancampin
Guantanamo=-the"Bulkeley
camp"-firsthadtobevacatedbytheHaitianstomakeroomforthenewCubanarrivals.
S
ButwhatexactlywastheHaitiansafehavenmodel?TheClintonadministrationhadfinallysettledupontheideaofsafehavenfortheHaitiansafterhavingunsuccessfullytriedseveralotherpolicyapproaches,including,initially,simplymaintainingtheBushpolicyofinterdictionandsummaryreturn,then,briefly,attemptingshipboardrefugeestatusdeterminationprocedures(untilbeingoverwhelmedbythenumberofasylumseekers).6Finally,recognizing3SeeRuiz,"NumberofCubanArrivalsSoars;Washington,MiamiWeighResponse
to
PossibleMassExodus,"
XV
RefugeeReports
1
(Aug.19,
1994).
Seealso
71
InterpreterReleases
1091
(Aug.
22,
1994).
4
LosAngelesTimes,
Aug.20,1994,at
AI.
5Part
oftheincentivefortheprematurepushingofHaitiansfrom
Guantanamo
nowappearstobetomakeroomintheMcCallacamp,wheretheHaitianshavebeenheld,fortheCubanswhomaybeforcedbackfromPanamainFebruaryandMarchif,indeed,thePresidentofPanamastickstohisgunsandrefuses
to
allowtheirstayintheCanalZone
to
beextendedbeyondsixmonths.6ForachronologyofHaiti'srefugeecrisisfromSeptember
30,1991
toSeptember
18,1994,
see
XlII
RefugeeReports
12
(May
29,1992);XV
RefugeeReports
8
(Sept.19,
1994).
Foradescriptionoftheshipboardscreeningprocedure,122January23,1995notonlyitsinabilitytokeepupwithindividualadjudicationsaboardshipin
the
contextofamassoutflow,butalsothewidespreadnatureofhumanrightsviolationsinHaitiandthefluidandvolatilepoliticalsituationinthatcountry,theadministrationdecidedtoofferwhatineffectamountedtonearlyblanketprotectiontoallHaitianasylumseekersat
Guantanarno
withoutscreeningforrefugee
status."
Thelackofscreeningcutbothways:theasylumseekerswouldnotbereturnedautomaticallytoHaiti,buttheywouldalsonotbeofferedtheoptionofenteringtheU.S.eitherasrefugees(ashadbeencontemplatedinshipboardprocessing)ortopursueasylumclaims(ashadbeentheBushadministration'spolicyfromthetimeoftheoverthrowofPresidentJean-BertrandAristideinSeptember1991untilthe"KennebunkportOrder"ofMay
24,
1992).8
It
wasclearlyconveyedtotheHaitiansat
Guantanamo
thattheywouldneverberesettledintheU.S.,andthatsoonerorlater,theywould
return-s-or
be
returned-toHaiti.Uponarrival,groupsofabout
30
Haitiansatatimeweremarchedintoahangaroff
the
McCallaairfieldwhereINSpersonnelwouldgreetthemusingthefollowingscript:YouwillnotbeabletogototheUnitedStates.Youhavetwooptions:togobacktoHaiti,ortoapplyfortemporaryprotectioninPanamaorsomeothercountryintheregion.IfyouwanttogobacktoHaiti,theCoastGuardwilltakeyouthere.
If
youwishtoseektemporaryprotection,youshouldunderstandwhatwillbethereforyou.Youwillliveinacampandyourbasicneedswill
be
providedfor.Youwill
be
safethere.
But
youwillnot
be
abletoleavethecamp.Youwillbegivenshelter,food,andbasicmedicalcare.Youwillnotbegivenmoneyandyouwill110tbeabletoworkformoneyinoroutsidethecamp.Therewillbesomesee
XV
RefugeeReports
7
(June
30,
1994).
Seealso
71
InterpreterReleases
966
(July
25,1994);885
(July
11,1994);717
(May
27,1994);627
(May
9,1994).
7Officially,ascreeningprocedurewasineffectinwhichHaitianswereexpectedtoarticulatesomeleveloffearofreturn.Inpractice,fewweredeniedsafehavenfortheirfailuretoassertafear;mostwererejectedforhavingadmittedtoseriousnonpoliticalcrimesorforhavingpersecutedothers.8See69InterpreterReleases672(June
1,
1992).
 
72INTERPRETERRELEASES
organizedactivitiesinthecampforyou.YouwillbeabletostayatthecampinPanamaorelsewhereuntilconditionsinHaitiallowforyourreturn.Duringyourtimethere,youwillnothavetheopportunitytogotoanyothercountryexceptHaiti.Arethereany
quesuons??
ThepriceoftemporaryrefugefortheHaitianswasdetention.Conditionsinthe
Guantanamo
campswerestark;theHaitianswererestrictedbehindbarbedwire,communicationwithtileoutsideworldwascompletelyunavailableforseveralweeksfromthecamp'sinception,andphonelines(criticalforthosewhowereilliterate)werenotinstalleduntilearlyOctober1994.10Implicitintheway
Guantanamo
wassetupandrunwasthenotionof"humanedeterrence"-atermcoinedbyThailandinJanuary]981todescribeitspolicyofgrudginglyprovidingtemporarysafehavenforLaotianrefugeesinaustereconditionsandforeclosingthepossibilityofthird-countryresettlementfor
them.U
Whenfacedwiththeprospectofstrictdetentionwithnoprospectforresettlement,theThaisreasoned,realrefugeeswouldself-select;thosewhotrulyfearedpersecutionwouldenduretheprivationsoflifeinaclosedcamp,whereasthosewhosefearsofreturnwerenotasseriouswouldchoosetorepatriateornotleavehomeatall.12TheThaissoonextendedhumanedeterrence
to
Vietnameseasylumseekers,andthepolicywasadoptedbyHongKongaswell,whereVietnameseboatpeoplewerecrammedintobadlyovercrowdedprison-likecamps.
9
"CounselingScript,"from
Guantanamo,
onfilewiththeauthor.
10
Seetworeportsbytheauthoroncampconditions:"SafeHavenforHaitianRefugees:SiteVisit,
Guantanarno
NavalBase,July
27,
1994"and"ReportonVisitto'SafeHaven'Campsin
Guantanamo
andPanama,"Oct.1994,publishedbytheU.S.CommitteeforRefugees.Seealso
ChristianScienceMonitor,
Aug.]1,1994.11SeeMcNamara,"TheOriginsandEffectsof'HumaneDeterrence'PoliciesinSoutheastAsia,"RefugeesandInternationalRelations,OxfordUniversityPress(1989),at123-33.12McNamarapointsoutthecontradictionthattheblanketdenialofresettlementwouldinevitablylead
to
theverystaticcamppopulationsThailandsoughttoavoid,andnotesthatinJuly1983itrelaxedthepolicytoallowcertaingroupstoresettleinthirdcountries.123January23,1995TheHaitiansafehavenmodelwaspredicatedontheidea
that
theHaitianswouldreturnafterarelativelyshortstaywhenitbecamesafeforthemtodoso.WhetheritisnowsafefortheHaitianstoreturnisamatterofcontroversy.lfPuttingasideforthemoment,however,continuingquestionsandcontroversiesaboutinhumaneconditionsinthecamps,thelegitimacyofinterdictionper
se,
andcoercedrepatriationsoftheresidualpopulationofHaitiansrefusingvoluntary
repatriauon.l"
theHaitiansafehavenexercise,thoughseriouslyflawedinmanyrespects,didmeetitsbroadobjectiveofprovidingtemporaryprotectionforalimitedperiodoftime-aboutsixmonths-untilapoliticalchangecouldoccurinthecountryoforiginsufficient
to
convinceatleastthreequartersoftheHaitians
to
repatriatevoluntarilybyJanuary5,1995,whenthefirstinvoluntaryrepatriationsbegan.ByreplicatingtheHaitiansafehavenmodelfortheCubans,theadministrationappeared,forthefirstlime,tobetreatingCubansandHaitiansequally,endingyearsofpatentlydiscriminatorytreatmenttowardHaitians
as
comparedtopreferentialtreatmentforCubans.Thepolicywas
not
agenerousoneforeithergroup,butatleastmetinternationallegalstandardsforthetemporaryprotectionofasylumseekersinmassflight.Inatoughelectionseasonmarkedbyastronganti-immigrantmood,thepolicyhadtheaddedpoliticalbenefitofpreventingafurtherflowofrefugeesintoFlorida.15Buttheelectionsarenowover,andsimplesolutionsmustbe
re-examined,
HaitiisnotCuba;itrepresentsaflawedmodelfordealingwithCubanasylumseekers.ThesituationinsideHaitiwasfluid,andtheU.S.governmentwaswillingtocommittheresourcesnecessary
to
effectpoliticalchangesinHaitisufficienttoconvincemostoftheHaitians
at
Guantanamo
10
return,
Cubaisstatic;thesituationofchronicrepressionandeconomicstagnationthatcausedmostoftheCubanrafterstoleavehasnotimprovedandisunlikelytoimproveintheforeseeablefuture.13
WashingtonPost,
Jan.11,1995,atA18,col.
1.
SeealsothenextarticleinthisRelease.14Thesequestionswillbediscussedbelow.15See
WashingtonPost,
Sept.1,1994,atA31,A34.

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