Tens of thousands of Haitians will continue to try to enter the United States illegally no matter what the political developments are in the next few years. Repatriating those who come by boat and turning back other Haitian ships will place the emphasis on other, probably more expensive, methods of illegal entry. Current U.S. immigration legislation sanctions U.S. employers who knowingly hire illegal aliens. This is of limited import to Haitian illegals who find marginal jobs in service and other low-cost sectors where U.S. law enforcement is weak.
It is difficult to deny that a country has a right to regulate immigration. We also believe that those Haitians who do seek refugee status should be granted the same open, fair, and speedy hearings as immigrants from all other countries and that while awaiting such hearings they should not be detained. We believe that the definition of what constitutes a refugee should be based on extensive empirical evidence of Haitian political life with an understanding that much continuing persecution by Haitian authorities is arbitrary, whether or not the individual in question has actually opposed the regime.
In short, during its almost 200 years of independence, Haiti's relations with the rest of the world have been frustrating and problematical. Bonds of language and race have helped, but isolation has persisted. In the 1990s the populace looks north more than ever before for a better life, and Haitian leaders find it difficult not to look for help in the United States. The lack of stable and beneficial relations with the rest of the world remains a grave problem. Easy labels such as "underdevelopment," "dependency," and even "Third World" are not useful; they impede analysis. One might make a case that the only way to save Haiti is to develop closer ties with other states, but not exclusively the United States. One of the many challenges of the last decade of the twentieth century is for Haiti to improve its relations with the Dominican Republic and the other Caribbean states while strengthening its ties with the European Community.