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U.S. | Immigrant Rights

Haitian Asylum-Seeker Dies in Immigration Custody
by National Coalition for Haitian Rights
Wednesday Nov 17th, 2004 10:34 AM
81-year old Joseph Dantica ran away to the United States, seeking shelter and comfort in the arms of his family. Instead, he faced the hellish nightmare Haitian refugees before him have confronted when seeking asylum in the US: held overnight at Miami International Airport, placed in detention at Krome North, isolated from family, friends and legal help, facing an Immigration bureaucracy that from the top down has been hostile to Haitians' claims of fear of persecution. He arrived in Miami on Oct. 29, and was pronounced dead on Nov. 3.
Haitian Asylum-Seeker Dies in Immigration Custody; Haitian Rights Coalition Calls for Full Investigation

11/17/2004 12:10:00 PM

To: National Desk

Contact: Jocelyn McCalla of the National Coalition for Haitian Rights, 212-337-0005 or 862-452-7196, jmccalla [at] nchr.org

NEW YORK, Nov. 17 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Caught in the terrifying crossfire of the political violence and lawlessness that has gripped Haiti since September, 81-year old Joseph Dantica ran away to the United States, seeking shelter and comfort in the arms of his family. Instead, he faced the hellish nightmare Haitian refugees before him have confronted when seeking asylum in the US: held overnight at Miami International Airport, placed in detention at Krome North, isolated from family, friends and legal help, facing an Immigration bureaucracy that from the top down has been hostile to Haitians' claims of fear of persecution. He arrived in Miami on Oct. 29, and was pronounced dead on Nov. 3.

"Pastor Dantica was a man of faith who put his fate in the hands of the US government. A visitor to the US since the 1970s, he had little intention of spending the rest of his life in the US. He hoped to return there when peace and calm were restored," said Jocelyn McCalla, Executive Director of the National Coalition for Haitian Rights. He was instead treated like a pauper. Neither his frequent visits to the US, nor his close relationship with his famous niece, celebrated Haitian-American writer Edwidge Danticat, compelled a more humane government response.

"We call on the Justice Department to conduct a full and impartial investigation into the tragic death of Mr. Dantica," said Mr. McCalla. "More importantly, we urge a review and overhaul of the policy that singles out Haitian refugees and immigrants for discriminatory treatment. Cuban asylum-seekers can walk away happily after applying for asylum whereas Haitians are held behind bars. For the fifth time since 1999, the US government has granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Nicaraguans and Hondurans because of the earthquake damage in their countries since then. Yet it has repeatedly denied TPS to Haitians whose country undoubtedly meets the conditions for such considerations: ongoing armed conflict and environmental disaster. Haitian asylum-seekers deserve to be treated fairly and equitably. Non-immigrant Haitians in the US should be granted TPS."

http://www.usnewswire.com/

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