Haitians Call For Release Of Migrants Who Survived Capsizing

Oct 21, 2013
Originally published on October 21, 2013 8:30 pm

A group of Haitian activists, including author Edwidge Danticat, had a message for the U.S. government today: The migrants who survived a capsized boat in the Atlantic have suffered enough, so they should be released.

"We believe these refugees were traumatized," Marleine Bastien, executive director of Haitian Women of Miami, told the AP. "We believe they've suffered enough."

The accident on Wednesday killed four of the 15 passengers on the boat. The Miami Herald reports that U.S. authorities have refused to release the names of the survivors or of the dead.

The paper reports:

"Nestor Yglesias, a spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said the agency doesn't make names 'readily available.' He also noted that the capsized-boat incident is now part of an active criminal investigation."

Ysena Alcinor, who is trying to find out if her 37-year-old niece and her 15-year-old son, were among those who died or are in immigration custody.

"We are suffering a lot," she told the AP.

As you might expect, this case has also sparked calls for Haitian immigrants to be treated the same as Cuban immigrants.

Haitians who reach the U.S. are usually deported, but Cubans are allowed to stay.

The Herald adds:

"Bastien and other Haitian immigration activists say it's time for the Obama administration to end the different treatment of Cuban and Haitian migrants.

"'It is a disgrace that we have a double standard here,' said Jack Lieberman, a founder of the Haitian Refugee Center. 'Cubans who step foot on U.S. soil get asylum and Haitians get sent back, put in concentration camps... and then sent back with no due process.'

"As he spoke, about 20 Haitians held up signs protesting the administration's policy and calling on it to 'End Deportations Now.'"

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