Defining the Haitian boat people as economic rather than political refugees allowed the United States to refuse asylum to thousands of Haitians and raised serious questions about human rights standards and treatment of refugees in the United States.
Large-scale Haitian immigration to the United States began during the 1970’s when Haitians, attempting to escape
Haitian sailboat loaded with 155 people awaiting a U.S. Coast Guard cutter to pick them up off the coast of Miami, Florida, in June, 1994.
In 1981, President
In 1991, the numbers of asylum seekers dropped when
Human rights groups condemned the American refusal to accept Haitian refugees even after the fall of Aristide. Citing numerous murders of repatriated Haitians, violations of Haitians’ civil rights, and imprisonment and harassment upon repatriation, these groups tried to change the status of the Haitian boat people to political refugees. Human rights groups asserted that the United States was in violation of the 1951 Convention and subsequent 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, and
Taking office in 1993, President
In 1993, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed that only those refugees who actually make it to U.S. soil on their own could be considered for refugee status and that anyone interdicted would be repatriated. This controversial policy, along with continued interdiction at sea, remains in effect in the early twenty-first century.
Gaines, Jena, and Stuart Anderson, eds. Haitian Immigration. Broomal, Pa.: Mason Crest, 2003. Garrison, Lynn. Voodoo Politics: The Clinton/Gore Destruction of Haiti. Los Angeles: Leprechaun Press, 2000. Haines, David W., ed. Refugees in America in the 1990’s: A Reference Handbook. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1996.
Bureau of Immigration, U.S.
Coast Guard, U.S.
Commission on Immigration Reform, U.S.
Transportation of immigrants