Birth of a Misinterpretation

A Haitian refugee is denied asylum after honestly answering a question about his wife's protracted pregnancy

Claire White argues in her rebuttal that it's unfair for the INS to put Larose in the position of having to determine whether his wife has been unfaithful. "The Service is trying to determine the credibility of the Applicant, not the status of his child," she asserts. "In the context of his culture, [the] Applicant's belief and testimony is not born out of deception. His belief is shared by thousands of Haitians, mostly those that were born and raised in rural communities, as was Mr. Larose, but also by well-educated urbanites."

Work records maintained by Larose's employer, Callery-Judge Grove in Loxahatchee, show that Larose has worked at the grove as a harvester for the past three years. "He's one of my regulars," says supervisor Kevin Coker. Larose's pay stubs, which were submitted as part of the rebuttal, indicate that he consistently showed up for work every week of December 1993 and January 1994, the time period during which he would have had to be in Haiti in order to father his child, assuming his wife had undergone a typical nine-month pregnancy.

The tall, boyish-looking Larose took a break from his work to discuss his immigration difficulties. Through an interpreter, he described his wife's protracted gestation with the same certitude an American might evince when speaking about the four years it normally takes to earn a college degree. Even before he fled Haiti in early 1992, Larose says, his wife appeared to be having difficulty carrying their child. Every week she and his mother visited the doctor together. After he was taken to Guantanamo, he recounts, he spoke to his wife by telephone. She had rubbed herself with a special potion that appeared to help the pregnancy, he recalls.

"Because of the problem, the baby was born in September 1994," Larose affirms. "Because of the problem, the baby was very small."

Citing confidentiality regulations, asylum officer Michael Benjamin refused to be interviewed about Larose's claim. A final decision regarding Claire White's rebuttal is pending. If asylum is denied, Larose can still appeal to an immigration judge.

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