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CNN Today

Miami's Haitians Score Victory in Case of Separated Mother and Children Refugees

Aired January 14, 2000 - 2:05 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Haitians living in the United States are upset over what they see is a double standard in this immigration policy in the United States. Haitian boat people routinely are sent home, viewed by the U.S. as economic rather than political refugees. Activists are especially angry over an incident that happens New Year's weekend when a Haitian mother was separated from her two young children.

Greg Stevens from Miami affiliate WSVN has that story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GREG STEVENS, WSVN REPORTER (voice-over): A day after hundreds of protesters marched down Biscayne Boulevard, a major victory. The group: angry over the difference in immigration policies towards Haitians and Cubans, but specifically many enraged over an incident on New Year's Day: a boat packed with more than 400 Haitian refugees intercepted by the Coast Guard in the waters of Key Biscayne when it ran aground. On board, a women needing medical treatment. She was brought to a south Florida hospital, but her two children, who had also made the dangerous journey with her, were returned to Haiti along with everyone else. Now, it seems those children, the two, will be reunited with their mother.

REP. CARRIE MEEKS (D), FLORIDA: Attorney General Janet Reno has agreed to allow two small Haitian children who were separated from their mother and shipped back to Haiti all alone to return to the United States and rejoin their mother.

STEVENS: Their mother is still at the Crome (ph) detention center, but an attorney speaking on her behalf has expressed her gratitude. With the recent protests over Elian Gonzalez, she also offered this important message:

CHERYL LITTLE, MOTHER'S ATTORNEY: Had it not been for the Haitian community that put their lives on the line and worked vigorously, I mean, they left work, they left jobs, they did what they had to do to send a message to Washington. The lives of Haitians count, too. The U.S. has a moral and a legal obligation to protect the right of refugees and whether they're Haitians, Cubans or any other nationality.

STEVENS: On this day in Little Haiti, many optimistic about the attorney general's ruling, but others are not allowing themselves to get their hopes up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's an appeasing method that is being used, not necessarily that it's going to change things.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel -- I feel it's the proper thing to do, but in the sense that the -- repairing the mistakes that was made, because I feel that the state hadn't accorded due process to the people and had the decency to interview them they would have found out, you know, earlier on that lady who sick on the boat and hospitalized had two children.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WATERS: WSVN reporter Craig Stevens. Now, those children had been staying with an aunt in Port au Prince, Haiti. They'll be traveling to the United States as soon as their passports are issued by the Haitian government.

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