U.S. Aims to Clear Base of Haitians Within 10 Days
U.S. Marines in riot gear rounded up Haitian refugees Friday for a forced voyage home, hoping to empty the camp within 10 days.
Immigration officials hope to process 400 to 500 of the tent city’s 3,800 residents daily and put them on Coast Guard cutters to clear the camp, Army Maj. Rick Thomas said.
About 200 were roused Friday morning for interviews in which they were given their last chance to make a case for political asylum in the United States.
State Department spokeswoman Christine Shelly said few, if any, will be given asylum against persecution, now that President Jean-Bertrand Aristide has been returned to power.
A group of 289 Haitians who did not volunteer to return to their homeland boarded a cutter that left the base Friday evening. Earlier in the day, 110 refugees who accepted incentives to return home left the base.
Fifty-four Haitians departed Thursday, the first group forced home since Aristide’s return. They arrived Friday in Port-au-Prince.
The Haitians fled their homeland after Aristide’s 1991 ouster by the military. U.S. authorities intercepted their boats and took the refugees to the U.S. base in Cuba.