President Clinton on Tuesday signed an order that temporarily lifts the threat of deportation hanging over thousands of illegal Haitian immigrants who are seeking political asylum in the United States.
The rarely used presidential order, called “deferred enforced departure,” will postpone deportations of eligible Haitians for a year while the administration works with Congress to produce a long-term legislative solution to their plight, Clinton said.
“I have 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 Dec. 31, 1995,” Clinton said in a statement.
He likened the Haitians’ situation to that of Central Americans who were granted opportunities to legalize their status and remain in the United States under a law approved last month. The provision excluded Haitians, despite the objections of the Congressional Black Caucus and immigration advocates.
The law provides amnesty to Nicaraguans and certain Cubans who have been in the United States since at least Dec. 1, 1995. It allows Salvadorans, Guatemalans and Eastern Europeans who entered the country and applied for asylum before various cutoff dates in 1990 and 1991 to apply for “suspension of deportation” under more lenient rules that were in effect before Congress passed an immigration reform law last year.