The Miami Herald
Wed, May. 19, 2004

Lawmakers: Don't send Haitians back

A bipartisan group of congressional lawmakers is renewing its call for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to suspend all deportations of Haitian refugees and to grant Temporary Protected Status for the next 18 months to Haitians living in the United States.

U.S. Reps. Robert Wexler, D-Boca Raton, and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami, are among those urging Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge to grant the request, first made in February as a string of violent rebellions swept across Haiti.

Lale Mamaux, a spokeswoman for Wexler, said the latest appeal is a follow-up to Homeland Security's refusal to suspend deportations and allow Haitians to temporarily live here until their homeland becomes more stable.

Despite the presence of a multinational force and interim government following the Feb. 29 resignation of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Haiti remains unsafe, said Mamaux, citing reports of violence and lawlessness. ''There is still deep concerns for the plight of Haitian refugees,'' she said. ``That is why we are re-addressing the situation.''