Franz Brinache knows about family separation. Brinache left his Haitian home and three children in 1994 to escape the violence following a military coup that overthrew President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 1991. During the next five years, Brinache made repeated attempts to bring his children to the United States. His personal pleas to the Haitian government—and paying several hundred dollars to immigration-assistance agencies—resulted in nothing.Brinache is not alone. Leaders of Florida's Haitian community charge that Haitian immigrants receive unfair treatment in comparison to the Cubans who receive automatic permanent asylum if they are able to reach U.S. shores.Haitian immigrants and their churches have renewed public demands for equal treatment of Haitian refugees, amid the public outcry over Elián González, the 6-year-old refugee who may be returned to his father in Cuba (CT, March 6, p. 25).About 350,000 Haitian immigrants live in the south Florida area stretching from Palm Beach to Key West. Most of them have arrived since the late 1970s.
Without Family, Without Work
Intense media attention has kept the Elián story alive for weeks. But news reports have largely ignored the case of a fishing boat overloaded with more than 400 Haitians that was turned away by Coast Guard cutters on New Year's Day.Other than a few individuals who were hospitalized in Miami, the boatload of Haitians was returned to the island nation without official hearings.One pregnant woman who was taken off the boat for medical treatment was separated from her two children, ages 8 and 9. They were sent back to Haiti with another relative. Apparently stung by the inconsistency of advocating family reunification for Elián while separating the Haitian mother ...1
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