Scores of Haitian asylum-seekers still jailed six months after landing near Miami will remain locked up, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft ruled yesterday. Citing national security and concerns about a possible mass migration from Haiti, Ashcroft agreed with Miami immigration officials that the Haitians should not be released while they file claims to remain in the United States, the Miami Herald said.
Ashcroft’s decision, which overrules a ruling by an immigration appeals board, affirms his authority as the person with the final legal say in such matters — and reminds immigration advocates that the attorney general has “extremely broad discretion in determining whether or not to release an alien on bond.”
Immigration advocates were stunned. They have been dealt a series of disappointing blows, the Herald said, since the boatload carrying 216 undocumented Haitian and Dominican migrants sailed into Biscayne Bay on Oct. 29. The migrants’ dramatic scramble to shore was captured on live television as many jumped from the overloaded boat and ran into oncoming traffic across the causeway.