Jump to content
Clubplanet Nightlife Community

Ashcroft claims Haitian refugees may be terrorists

Recommended Posts

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.

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?' ''

Patt said he doesn't know the source of Ashcroft's information. He said the agency has no published reports addressing that concern, though he did not rule out any internal documents on the matter.

Petty Officer Anastasia Barnes, a Coast Guard spokeswoman, said none of the migrants picked up in an Oct. 29 incident near the Rickenbacker Causeway -- or any other time by cutters stationed near Haiti -- fit the profile listed by Ashcroft.

Jorge Martinez, a spokesman for Ashcroft's office, could not immediately say where the attorney general got the information. He directed inquiries to the Department of Homeland Security. A DHS spokeswoman redirected questions to Martinez.


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.

``Someone needs to call the president and let him know we are at war against the Taliban and al Qaeda, and not the Haitian people.''

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.''


As a result of Haiti's ongoing political turmoil, the United States has cut off aid to the Haitian government. It does, however, support health and other projects by funding private groups.

''There is no basis of fact for the attorney general's claims. No information of this nature has been presented to the Haitian government,'' Kurzban said. ``It's a false claim. It's used to perpetuate a discriminatory policy against Haitians.''

Kurzban said that unlike Cuba, Haiti is not on the United States' terrorist watch list.

''The attorney general has no problem in allowing Cubans in,'' he said. ``Yet Haitians are looked at as a national security threat, not withstanding our relations with Haiti and Haiti has never been designated as a terrorist state.''

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.


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.

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?''

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...