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Copyright (c) 2004 Georgetown Immigration Law Journal
Georgetown Immigration Law Journal


Winter, 2004

19 Geo. Immigr. L.J. 245





"I have made it abundantly clear to the Coast Guard that we will turn back any refugee that attempts to reach our shore." President George W. Bush, February 25, 2004. 1

As a wave of political violence, widespread fear, and general lawlessness swept Haiti in late February 2004, culminating in the forced departure of President Jean Bertrand Aristide, President George W. Bush ordered stepped-up Coast Guard patrols off the coast of Haiti and directed the Coast Guard to return fleeing refugees. During that short span of time, 905 Haitians took to the sea and were intercepted by U.S. Coast Guard cutters. 2

Not a single one of the interdicted Haitians was deemed to have a credible fear of return, supposedly a lower threshold standard than the Refugee Convention's "well-founded fear" standard. Upon interdiction, U.S. officials provided no advice to the people taken aboard U.S. Coast Guard cutters of their right to seek protection. 3 Reportedly, there were not even Creole-speaking U.S. officials on board all of the cutters involved in these interdictions. 4 In fact, only three of the 905 Haitians passed what has come to be known as the "shout test." 5 Although the shout test purportedly allows a person to be interviewed for a credible fear who "indicates" a fear, in practice the "shout" nomenclature seems to be closer to the mark. Only those who wave their hands, jump up and down, and shout the loudest -- and are recognized as having ...
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