[ut.chinese] Detention of Chinese Refugees

rzhu@watmath.waterloo.edu (Rupert Zhu) (02/06/91)

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                             Feb 1, 1991

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2.   INS holds refugees for months as they seek asylum..................90

2.  INS holds refugees for months as they seek asylum...................90
>From: Wu Fang <INT3FWU@mvs.oac.ucla.edu>
Source:  AP, Jan. 27, 1991

Ming grasped his attorney's hands and bowed his head as he thanked the
judge who had just granted him political asylum in the United States.

He was one of the lucky ones, having been detained at the federal
Krome Detention Center outside Miami for only three months before
winning asylum last Tuesday. Dozens of refugees fleeing China's 1989
military crackdown have been held there for up to 10 months, but a new
Immigration and Naturalization Service parole policy at Krome may
change that.

Pale and thin and appearing much younger than his 19 years, Ming gave
a dramatic, three-hour account of his journey to Miami in search of
freedoms that many fellow pro-democracy students ended up dying for.
Ming, who asked that his surname not be used, said he was one of seven
student leaders in Canton who rallied thousands of others to take to
the streets in support of their classmates in Beijing in the summer of

''Our students were just for democracy and freedom,'' he said through
tears. ''We just wanted to show our true feelings to do something for
our country.''

Later, outside the court, the soft-spoken teen-ager declared
hesitantly, ''Now I have freedom. Now I have a new turning point in my

In granting Ming asylum on the basis that he had a well-founded fear
of persecution if returned to his homeland, U.S. Immigration Judge
Philip Montante said the Chinese government ''crushed and killed
unarmed students whose only offense was to advocate freedom and

Since arriving in the United States, many other Chinese at Krome had
found little to cheer them. In October, 45 Chinese staged a three-day
hunger strike, claiming that guards had encouraged fellow Haitian
detainees to beat them.

Now, their prospects have suddenly brightened.

On Friday, the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service announced
that over the next few weeks it would begin to let the Chinese out on
parole while they appeal for permission to stay.  Thirteen Chinese
were released from Krome on Friday, leaving 62 Chinese illegal aliens
at Krome.

Attorneys and activists representing the Chinese are not sure what's
behind the sudden turnabout, but they're not complaining.

''We feel delighted that the proclamation has been made to freedom and
can only rejoice,'' said Hopkin Laman of the Organization of Chinese

Space was the reason of release given by Carol Chasse, deputy director
for the INS district of Miami. ''We've got more people than we can
financially accommodate at Krome.''

But Chasse warned that if the release ''triggers the entry of a large
number of additional fraudulent document type cases, then we're going
to have to reassess our position.''

Arthur Helton of the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights in New York,
where another 62 Chinese aliens were in detention last week, believes
that the Miami reversal may have been a directive from INS and Justice
Department officials in Washington.

At a meeting Helton attended with the deputy attorney general Jan. 16,
he said officials specified the Chinese as ''an example of a refugee
population that was unnecessarily detained.''

According to INS figures, between October 1989 and October 1990, 505
Chinese were granted political asylum and only 49 cases were denied.

''Clearly given that experience, it makes no sense to detain Chinese
asylum seekers on a theory that if you release them they would likely
abscond,'' Helton said. ''If anything, they would be eager to present
their case.''

Chasse denies that Washington played a role in Miami's decision to let
the Chinese go. ''This was a local decision,'' she said.

Krome can hold about 700 detainees; as of Friday there were about 550
at the detention center and ''our funding for this year mandates that
we try to maintain a level below 500,'' she said.

INS officials also deny that the asylum cases for the Chinese had been
given any less weight than those of the Haitians. Since Oct. 1, those
released from Krome include 25 Chinese and 205 Haitians.

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