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Implementation of Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act and General Accounting Office Seventh Report on HRIFA

Haitian-American Relief Effort for flood victim in Haiti and Hurricane Frances victims in Florida

How to apply for a Haitian passport and Cutoff Dates for Immigrant Visas - March 2003 US Embassy Consular Section

Haitian Refugee Hearing-Statement of Wendy Young

Haitian Refugee Hearing-Dina Paul Parks

Haitian Refugee Hearing-Marie Jocelyn Ocean before U.S Senate Immigration Subcommittee

Haitian Refugee Hearing - Bishop Thomas Wenski

Haitian Refugee Hearing-Sheryl Little

Haitian Refugee Hearing - Jean Robert Lafortune

Slide Show - March on Washington DC

Redistricting in Little Haiti-the Fair Representation Project-A quest for self-governance

Bush Administration and Haitian Refugees Containment Policy - Update on Haitian Refugees at Krome

Haitians in South Florida to celebrate Haiti's Bicentennial in 2004

Report of the U.S State Department on Haitian Refugees

What is up with HRIFA? What if my application still pending? What is the approval rate for HRIFA?

If you apply for benefits under the Haitian Refugee Immigrant Fairness Act of 1998, chances are, you are still in limbo or your application was denied. Indeed, only one out five HRIFA applicants was approved by INS. The Board of the Haitian-American Grassroots met with INS Officials in June 2001 in Miami for an update about HRIFA.


General Accounting Office Seventh Report on April 2002 on HRIFA is testimony of INS's malfaisance vis-a-vis Haitian Refugees. INS Miami District refutes GAO Report. HRIFA program sunset this July 2002


In September 14, 2000, a delegation of the Haitian-American Grassroots Coalition, while in Washington DC, met with Mr. James Castello and other high level officials at the Justice Department and with Mr. Bo Cooper, general Counsel for the INS to bring to their attention that the Nebraska Service Center was processing the HRIFA applications extremely slow and they were approving very few of those cases. According to service providers and immigration attorneys in South Florida, most of their clients were being denied by Nebraska. The federal authorities agreed to address those issues on an emergency basis at the District level on that same day in September 2000.


On March 20, 2001, Members of the Haitian-American Grassroots Coalition met with the Chief of Staff for the INS District director Mr. John Shewairy in Miami. He indicated that due to the efforts of the Haitian Grassroots Coalition with high level officials at the Justice and INS last year, the Nebraska Processing Service Center signed an agreement with local INS offices whereby applicants' file will be transferred to the local INS District offices in order to speed up those applications.



As a follow up to the March 2001 meeting, the Grassroots Coalition has requested an update on HRIFA cases from the INS Miami District Office on July 18, 2001. Below is an exerpt of that report provided by the INS Community Relations Officer Ivette Rodriguez. The data provided are as per Monica Hesles, Supervisory District Adjudications Officer on 7/17/01.


As of June 7, 2001, as for the Miami District, here are the data:

.- Nebraska has received a total of 37,316 HRIFA
cases

.- 15,839 of these cases have been sent to local INS
offices throught the entire country (Boston,
MIami, New York ect.)

.- Approximately 75% of the 15,839 cases - about
11,000- came to the Miami Office.

.-The Nebraska Service Center should have about
20,000 to 21,000 HRIFA cases left

.- The Miami District Office is still getting HRIFA cases from the Nebraska Service Center on a weekly basis and this operation will continue.

.- The Miami District Office should be receiving approximately 16,000 additional cases from the Nebraska Service Center.

.-The Miami District Office is getting between 1,000 and 1,200 HRIFA cases sent every week from the Nebraska Service Center.

.- The Miami District Office has a total of 12
adjudication officers working on HRIFA cases.

.- During the fiscal year 2001 (October 1st, 2000
through June 7, 2001) the Miami District approved
2,856 HRIFA cases and denied 648 cases. (Before
then, Miami was getting very few cases referred
by the Nebraska Service Center and that is why
figures are from October 2000 to present.)

.- Denials on HRIFA are for a variety of reasons,
mainly, applicants do not have evidence of
filling out an I-589 asylum form prior to
December 1995; they need to have been paroled
prior to December 1995; have committed fraud
against the Immigration Service or convicted of a
crime that leads to denial.

.- Note:
Haitian community leaders have complained of
our denying "decollage" cases, that is
denying HRIFA benefits to applicants who have
entered the U.S with improper documents.
However those individuals can file waivers
in the case of denial due to false
documentation -- and INS approves many of
those waivers. But if they do not have a
family relationship to qualify for a waiver,
those cases are then denied.

.- We are interviewing all HRIFA cases referred from
Nebraska, with some exceptions. But mostly , the
standard is to conduct an interview for all HRIFA
applicants.

.- Anticipated date of completion of HRIFA caseload
in Miami is another year and a half to two years
from now.

.- Problems the Miami District is experiencing in
adjudicating HRIFA applications: applicants are
presenting too many fake birth certificates (buy
them here or in Haiti, and it is evident they
are fraudulent); children born in a place other
than Haiti of Haitian parents need to bring with
them a Haitian Passport, so INS know citizenship
has been conferred.

*** The Haitian-American Grassroots Coalition has scheduled another update on HRIFA cases in September 2001 in order to monitor the progress of the Miami Office in speeding up the adujudication process.

As for the problem resulting with fake birth certificate, the Haitian-American Grassroots Coalition will meet with the Director of the Haiti's National Archives in the coming months in order to explore the possibilities to resolve the birth certificate dilemma.

At the legislative levels, Senator Bob Graham was informed on the importance to re-introduce a bill to extend HRIFA so those who did not have enough time apply would be able to do so. Works behind the scene are still being done to fix HRIFA. Indeed, Attorney Steve Forester has recently drafted a new bill to fix all the existing holes in HRIFA. More information is forthcoming when this bill is introduced by a Republican legislator.

As the result of the Terrorist Attack on September 11, 2001, anti-immigrant backlashes have reached a new height, few congressional leaders have expressed
some desire to take lead on immigration benefits for immigrants.

In April 2002, the General Accounting Office released its seventh report to members of the U.S Senate and U.S House regarding HRIFA implementation.

GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE
==============================================
UNITED STATES GENERAL ACCOUNTINg OFFICE
Washington, DC 20548

April 18, 2002

The Honorable Robert C. Byrd
Chairman
The Honorable Ted Stevens
Ranking Minority Member
Committee on Appropriations
United Staes Senate

The Honorable Patrick Leahy
Chairman
The Honorable Orrin Hatch
Ranking Member
Committee on the Judiciary
United States Senate

The Honorable C.W Bill Young
Chairman
The Honorable David Obey
Ranking Minority Member
Committee on Appropriations
House of Representatives

The Honorable F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr.
Chairman
The Honorable John Conyers, Jr.
Ranking Member
Committee on the Judiciary House of Representatives

Subject: Immigration Benefits: Seventh Report Required by the Haitian Immigration Fairness Act of 1998

This report responds to certain requirement of the Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act (HRIFA)of 1998 that authorized certain haitian Nationals and their dependents to apply to adjust their status to legal permanent residence. SEction 902(k) of the act requires the comptroller general to report every six months on the number of Haitian nationals who have applied and been approved to adjust their status to legal permanent residence. The reports are to contain a breakdown of the numbers who applied and the number who were approved as asylum applicants, parolees, children, without parents, orphaned children, or abandonned children; or as the eligible dependents of these applicants, including spouses, children, and unmarried sons and daughters. Reports are to be provided until all applications have been finally adjudicated. This is our seventh report.

RESULTS IN BRIEF

As of March 31, 2002, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) had received a total of 36,420 HRIFA Applications and had approved 7,351 of these applications. The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) had 198 applications filed and had approved 98 of them. Details on the categories of the applicants and approvals are provided in this report.

BACKGROUND

Haitian Applicants are to send their applications to INS's Nebraska Service Center in Lincoln, Neb. INS's contractor at the service is responsible for processing the applications up to the point of their adjudication by INS examiners. An application may be adjudocated at the service center or in the INS district with jurisdiction over the area where the alien applicant resides. Generally , applications that are complete and evidentially sufficient can be adjudicated at the service center, according to INS officials. If an interview is required or other issues need to be resolved, the application is to be forwarded to the appropriate INS district where the applicant can be interviewed and the application adjudicated. data on Haitian applicants are to be entered in INS's Computer Lynked Application Information System (CLAIM).


Haitian Nationals who are eleigible for HRIFA should file their applications with EOIR rather than INS if
they have (1) a prooceeding pending before the Immigration Court or the Board of Immigration Appeals, or (2) a pending motion to reopen or reconsider filed on or before May 12, 1999. Thus, Haitian Nationals who are in deportation, closed, are to file their HRIFA application with EOIR, not INS. Data on Haitian applicants are to be entered in EOIR's case-tracking system, the automated nationwide System for Imigration Review (ANSIR). The deadline for principal applicants filing an application for adjustmnent of status under HRIFA was March 31, 2000. Dependents of principal applicants have no application deadline.




HRIFA Applications Received by INS

As of March 31, 2002, INS data showed that INS had received 36,420 HRIFA applications at the Nebraska Service Center, all of which had been entered into CLAIMS. The categories and numbers of these applicants are shown in table 1. As of March 31, 2002, INS had approved 7,351 applications for adjustment of status under HRIFA.

Table -1: HRIFApplications and categories of applications Received and Approved by INS, as of March 31, 2002

Principal/Depend.--Categ.--CLAIMS Applic. #apprv.

Principal=Asylum 17,306 Number Approved= 4,178

Principal=Parolee 8,896 Number Approved= 1,693

Principal=Child/wo/parent 1,226 Numb. Apprv=74
Principal=Orphaned Child 239 Numb. Apprv.=11

Principal=Abandonned child 480 Numb. Apprv.=13

Dependent=Spouse 3,128 Numb. Apprv.=491
Dependent=Child 4,827 Numb. Apprv.=849
Dependent=Unmarried/son/daughter 318 Numb. Ap=42
===================================================
Total Applicants 36,420 Total approved 7,351

Source INS data

OBJECTIVES, SCOPES and METHODOLOGY

Our objectives for this report were to determine(1) the number and categories of applicants who filed applications with INS or EOIR and(2) the number and and cataegories of applicants whose applications were approved by INS or EOIR. To attain these objectives, we relied on INS and EOIR to provide us with data on applicants and the number of approvals. We conducted our work between March and April 2002, in accordance with generall accepted government auditing standars.


We provided the Department of Justice with a draft of this report for comment and received informal comments on April 16, 2002. In their verbal comments, INS and EOIR agreed with the information in the report.


We are providing copies of this report to the Attorney General and will make copies available to others upon request. If you have any questions about this report, please contact Evi L. Rezmovic or me at 202-512-8777. The key contributor to this assignment was Anthony L. Hill.


Laurie E. Ekstrand
Director, Justice Issues



*** In May 2002, the Public Information Officer for Miami/INs District indicated that according to their data, between Miami and Nebraska, 11,663 applicants were approved and 3,303 applications were denied. The Haitian-American Grassroots Coalition has sent an inquiry to GAO, and the Justice Department regarding the serious discrepancy between data in the GAO report and data released by the Miami-INS District Office.

The Haitian-American Grassroots Coalition has elected a new Board of Directors in June 2001.
On Tuesday July 10, 2001, Senator Daryl Jones, one of several democratic candidates to challenge the Florida Governor Jeb Bush for the gubernatorial election next year, shared his vision with HAGC members and directors during the organization's Installation Dinner Ceremonies at Planet Kreyol Cafe in Miami. The Florida State Representative Attorney Phillip Brutus was the keynote speaker for this event which was attended by community leaders from the hispanic, anglo, african-american, and chinese communities. Senior Staffers from the Office of Senator Bob Graham, (Akua Welsh) and Congresswoman Carrie P. Meek ( Dr. Ernesto Ramos) were also in attendance.

The Senator proceeded as well with the installation of the new Board of Directors for the Haitian-American Grassroots Coalition. The Board of 8 took the oath and agreed to defend and protect the interest of Haitian Nationals. One seat remains vacant due to disqualification. The Board of Directors are:

Jean-Robert Lafortune, MS- Chairman and C.E.O

e-mail: j.lafortune@lycos.com


Marleine Bastien, MSW - First Vice-Chair

e-mail: Marleine_Bastien@hotmail.com


Gepsie Metellus, MS - Second Vice-Chair

e-mail: gmetellus@aol.com


Lucie Tondreau - Secretary

e-mail: Tlucie@bellsouth.net


Councilwoman Laura Charlemagne Vancol - Treasuror
e-mail: Lcherie123@aol.com


Cheryl Little, Esq. Parliamentarian

e-mail: clittle@FIAC.org
Carline Paul - Member at Large

e-mail: Tcarline@lycos.com
Tony Jean - Thenor - Member at Large

Vacant one seat - Member at Large


In Janury this year, a partial election took place for the posts of Parliamentarian, Secretary, treasuror, and members at large.

Updated roster:
Georges William = New Board Treasuror
Lucie Tondreau = Re-elected Board Secretary
Marie-Estime Thomson, Esq. = Parliamentarian
Winnie Cantave = Member at Large
Tony Jean-Thenor = Re-elected Member at Large
Carline Paul = Re-elected - Member at Large


Advisory Board
=========================

Akua Scott Representing U.S Senator Bob Graham
Andreina Dieligen Representing Florida Gov. Jeb Bush
Dr. Ernesto Ramos Representaing U.S Congresswoman Carrie P. Meek
Kendrick P. Meek, Senator State of Florida - Dist.36
Attorney Phillip Brutus - House dist. 108 - State of Florida




Serious Discrepancy between Government Accounting Office Report and Miami INS District Office about toatl HRIFA approved applicants