US Readies Gitmo for Fleeing Haitians

Prepares tents for thousands of expected illegal immigrants
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 21, 2010 7:33 AM CST
US Readies Gitmo for Fleeing Haitians
A US soldier stands among a crowd of about 2000 people to help maintain order as they line up for water distribution at a camp set up on a golf course in Port-au- Prince, Wednesday.   (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

The US has begun preparing Guantanamo Bay as a holding facility for Haitian refugees in case of a mass migration spurred by the earthquake, a senior official at the base said yesterday. About 100 10-person tents have been erected and authorities have more than 1,000 more on hand in case waves of Haitians leave their homeland and are captured at sea. Authorities have also tested the latrine facilities and gathered cots and other supplies.

The Haitian migrants would be held on the opposite side of the base as the terror detention center, and would have no contact with detainees. In the early 1990s, tens of thousands of Haitian boat people were held at Guantanamo until they could be sent home. US immigration officials have said they will fast-track applications for a federal designation that will allow illegal Haitian immigrants to live and work temporarily in this country, but only if they were in the US on the day of the Jan. 12 earthquake. (More Guantanamo Bay stories.)

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