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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release December 23, 1997


Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for Haitians

Today, the President directed the Attorney General and the Immigration and Naturalization Service to defer for one year the deportation of Haitians who were paroled into the United States or applied for asylum prior to December 31, 1995. This action will protect these Haitians against deportation for one year while the Administration works with Congress to provide them long-term legislative relief.

The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) estimates that there are approximately 40,000 Haitians who may benefit from the President's action. This group includes Haitians who were paroled into the United States from Guantanamo Bay Naval Base after the overthrow of President Aristide in 1991, Haitians who arrived in the United States through other means and were later paroled, and Haitians who applied for asylum prior to December 31, 1995. Haitians who have committed serious crimes or whose removal the Secretary of State or the Attorney General determines to be in the interest of the United States would be ineligible for this relief.

The President has determined that it is in the foreign policy interest of the United States to grant DED to this group of Haitians. Specifically, he believes that this action will help contribute to Haiti's efforts to build a stable and lasting democracy. This, in turn, will help to prevent future outflows of undocumented Haitian migrants. He also strongly believes that Haitians should receive the same treatment we sought for Central Americans, in light of the similarity of their circumstances.

President Bush granted DED three times: first in 1990 to Chinese who where in the United States at the time of the events at Tiananmen Square; then in 1991 to certain Kuwaiti residents evacuated from the Persian Gulf during the Gulf War; and finally in 1992 to Salvadorans who had previously registered for Temporary Protected Status (TPS)-- a form of relief provided to them because of the civil war in their country. In 1993, President Clinton extended for 18 months the grant of DED to Salvadorans.

The Department of Justice and INS will implement the President's directive. Questions about implementation should be referred to them.

When Congress returns, the Administration intends to work closely with interested Members on both sides of the aisle to provide permanent legislative relief for this group of Haitians.