CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Jeb Bush in Little Haiti
Aired October 30, 2002 - 10:57 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We are going to listen in live to Governor Jeb Bush of Florida speaking about the Haitian detainees.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
GOV. JEB BUSH (R), FLORIDA: ... illegally they have to be processed through Krome, but if they have a well-founded fear of persecution they should be allowed out of Krome and allowed to pursue their remedies in the administrative courts. That's the same for Jamaicans, for Chinese. It should be the same for Haitians, and I urged -- I made that case to the folks in Washington D.C. one more time.
QUESTION: We respect you, governor.
BUSH: Yes, congresswoman, nice to see you.
QUESTION: One thing.
BUSH: Yes, ma'am.
QUESTION: I respect your stand on education. I would never disrespect the governor of this state. You earned where you are. I came to ask you if you would call your brother and ask him to call INS to release the Hatians that are in detention. They don't need a new policy. All they have to do is call. The wet foot/dry foot policy will take effect. Those Haitians are standing on dry land. My blood has been transferred to them, governor.
BUSH: Congresswoman, I appreciate it.
QUESTION: I love them.
BUSH: I respect your position.
QUESTION: Please, call him, governor, and ask him to please -- you can do it.
BUSH: Thank you.
QUESTION: We can't do it. The Congress can't do it. We tried our best. We can't do it. If you call him...
BUSH: You know, we worked together in 1998 to change the immigration laws. With your leadership, that occurred to provide for more just treatment of Haitians. My position is, as I stated, if people have a well-founded fear of persecution, they should be allowed into the community, out of Krome and they should be able to pursue those remedies through administrative...
QUESTION: Tell your brother they can be released right now. You can. Thank you, thank you, governor.
BUSH: Thank you for being here. Nice seeing you.
QUESTION: ... the refugees will impact on the campaign now that we're in the last week?
BUSH: No, this has been a long-standing issue in our state and we're blessed to be a land of immigrants. I think on a net basis, it is far more beneficial to make sure that people from all over the world can pursue their dreams in Florida, and I don't think it will have any impact on the campaign.
BUSH: Excuse me? I'm sorry.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One person at a time.
QUESTION: Could you be more specific on who you spoke to in Washington?
BUSH: I spoke to the national security council, both Amelio Gonzalez (ph) and Ambassador Mistel (ph).
QUESTION: You haven't spoken to your brother?
QUESTION: Governor, we embrace you coming here today. Often the Haitian community, we care for you, because we know that you have a lot of dreams for the black people, the Haitian African-Americans. But what we want to ask you, what is your administration planning to do about this political issue in Haiti, which is right next door to us? That makes a lot of Haitians fled here in many occasion (ph), and those who are in the Krome (ph) sector. If the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) are welcome on land. They are giving people (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Haitians. We are not human beings. We are not animals. We are human beings. Why? Why they treating us like that, governor? Why?
BUSH: Haitians should be treated in the same fashion that Jamaicans, people from the Bahamas, people from any country, Colombians. There should be equal treatment, and that's my position.
QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) make a phone call for us (ph).
QUESTION: And you...
BUSH: I got it.
QUESTION: One more question, and then we have to go.
QUESTION: ... to Washington and say to (ph) the INS or bring the INS out here, and let's give them due process (UNINTELLIGIBLE) site.
BUSH: Well, they will receive due process. The question is, will they receive due process inside of Krome awaiting it, or should they be released out? They are going to receive due process, and...
QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the INS, they have to come down here. Let's face it. If they change that policy, you know, you and your brother can do that.
BUSH: I have -- Carrie (ph), I have lobbied on behalf of the policy that I described to you on a consistent basis over the last six months.
QUESTION: What's the problem? Why won't change the policy?
BUSH: You'll have to talk to them about it. One more question.
BUSH: I can't hear you, say it again.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In regards to the national homeland security...
BUSH: We need more. First of all, we are not sure -- I don't know exactly if in fact they may have come from the Bahamas. I don't think it's been determined exactly where these folks came from. But the reality is that we need more help for the Coast Guard. We need to -- the Coast Guard budgets were cut in the '90s, and now they have a modernization plan will expand their presence in south Florida, which I completely support, and have been lobbying both the administration and Congress to make sure that Florida's voice is heard on that regard.
We have a huge coastline, and it is impossible with the Coast Guard assets that we have right now to protect our coasts completely against any possible threat.
Thank you all very much.
QUESTION: Thank you. COOPER: You have been listening to some impromptu comments made by Governor Jeb Bush of Florida. This was a prescheduled campaign stop in the Little Haiti community in Miami-Dade County. Some question as to whether the governor will go ahead with the campaign stop in light of what happened yesterday. The 200-some largely Haitian people coming by boat -- those are the pictures there, such dramatic pictures we saw yesterday. They are still being detained and will be facing, what the governor called due process.
We are joined now by Mark Potter, who standing by in Florida.
Mark -- what did you make of the governor's announcements?
MARK POTTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it shows that this is such a passionate issue here in Miami and in south Florida. It has been an issue for decades. The Cuban immigrants get a different treatment than the Haitian and all other groups coming in. And while Cuban immigrant political leaders have lobbied on behalf of the Haitians, that tension still exists, and it's not surprising that the issue has come to the fore once again.
Anderson, I want to tell you that I am here at the Krome Avenue detention facility center, the processing center, where most of the immigrants -- the Haitian immigrants were brought last night after they came off of the boat.
And immigration officials are telling us that they are now conducting a criminal investigation in connection with that Haitian boatload. They suspect that this involved immigrant smuggling.
Now, it was also a potentially dangerous situation yesterday, although only minor injuries and no fatalities were reported. Yesterday, more than 230 Haitians and three Dominicans crammed aboard a 50-foot wooden freighter began jumping overboard after the boat ran aground just south of the bridge of connecting Miami and Key Biscayne. Men, women and children mad a desperate rush to shore. Some fell in the deep water and couldn't swim and had to be rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard.
Now, after coming to the causeway bridge, many began running through traffic, some approached motorists asking them for rides out of the area. Police and federal officials convened on the scene and began rounding up the Haitians.
Those in detention now will be questioned by investigators about various details of that trip. They're still trying to figure out where the boat came from and how this suspected smuggling scheme worked.
They'll also be questioned about whether any of them will qualify to apply for asylum. Haitian advocates worry that most of these Haitians ultimately will be sent back to Haiti, and they are urging federal officials to treat them fairly.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HANS OTTINOT, HAITIAN LAWYER: Our main concern is that we want Haitians refugees to be treated the same as other refugee. Other refugees are released upon the filing of an asylum application. Haitian refugees should have the same right. They should be treated the same under the law, not treated differently, obviously because of their skin color.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
POTTER: Now, today, as we saw, there was a small demonstration outside the campaign rally with Jeb Bush in Miami's Little Haiti. Another demonstration is scheduled this afternoon at the INS headquarters in Miami.
Now, the government in a written statement said he has been told by White House officials the Haitians will be given fair and decent treatment. He also said that he remains concerned, however, about immigration enforcement and about the safety of those who make this dangerous ocean voyage.
And on other vote, earlier this morning, some lawyers -- three lawyers from the Haitian Lawyers Association came here to the Krome Avenue facility, hoping to meet with the detainees, but they were turned away by the authorities here, who say that they are still processing the refugees and are now engaged in that criminal investigation -- Anderson.
COOPER: Mark, just so you know, we are showing our viewers at home a live picture, and overhead shot of the Krome Avenue detention facility, where you are right outside of. We see a lot of people milling around, playing basketball, working out -- that sort of thing.
Mark, I want to ask you. You said that there is now a criminal investigation under way looking into whether or not this is human smuggling. Would that in any way affect the immigration status of any of these people?
POTTER: Well, it could affect their release into the community. There was an argument being waged by Haitian advocates that they should be -- if any of them show a credible fear of persecution, they should be released into the community, so they can hire lawyers and more effectively argue their asylum claims.
The question that I have is whether that may be affected now, as they are held as material witnesses in the criminal case, if one is developed, certainly as part of the investigation. It might have an affect, I can't say for sure, but I suspect it does.
COOPER: Mark, just one more question. You said you had talked to some Haitian-American activists, and you know, they are saying they want fair treatment for these people who are now in detention. Are they saying they want fair treatment sort of vis-a-vis Cuban refugees, or vis-a-vis other immigrants from other countries?
POTTER: Well, they're basically treated in terms of their asylum issues, like everyone else, except Cubans. The Cubans have a special deal. The Cuban Adjustment Act of the early 1960s, and decades of law that followed that, give the Cubans special privileges. If they can make it to the U.S. shore, they are virtually guaranteed that they can enter the United States and begin new lives. No other immigrant group has that privilege.
The Haitians claim that they are particularly put upon as of last December, because a ruling came out that even though they are detained here and have shown a credible fear of persecution, they have to stay in detention as they argue their asylum claims, unlike anybody else.
So, they are asking for at least a level playing field with the other immigrant groups. They don't think they will ever get what the Cubans get. And again, talking to the advocates today, while they are talking about the plans that they have and the hopes that they have, in reality they suspect that when it is all said and done, most of these Haitians who came here yesterday will be sent back to Haiti, seen as economic refugees as opposed to political asylees (ph).
COOPER: All right, Mark Potter, thanks very much. We will follow this story and bring you any developments as warranted.
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