S. Fla. Haitian Activists Calls For Immigration Change After Deadly Boat Accident

MIAMI (CBS4) – Marleine Bastien was feeling a pain that was both shocking and all too common.

“Usually when you hear that people died, especially children, or anyone for that matter, it’s a shocker,” said Bastien, the director of Haitian Women of Miami. “So I was very shocked and very saddened by the news.”

The Haitian American activist was referring to the recent tragedy in which a boat filled with Haitians capsized off the Bahamian coast. Eleven bodies were recovered and another eleven are missing.

Video from the Bahamian TV station ZNS Wednesday showed some of the bodies being brought to the capital for autopsy.

Survivors of the tragedy told authorities they paid as much as $5,000 for a seat on the boat which was headed for Florida.

“The smugglers they don’t care about human life,” Bastien said told CBS4’s Jim DeFede.

As Bastien spoke, she received a call from a friend in Haiti. Three of his relatives were on the ill-fated boat, Glory Time.

“They all perished,” said the man, who asked that his name not be released.

He said that like so many Haitians they were simply trying to capture the dream of a better life.

The tragedy off aboard the boat Glory Time is reminiscent of the May 2009 case where a similar vessel, over capacity with Haitians, capsized killing nine. That smuggler’s journey started in the Bahamas as well.

According to the coast guard, since October, 823 Haitians have been intercepted at sea trying to make it to the United States

Bastien often tells her people not to make the dangerous voyage and instead come to the United States through legal means. But, she added, the United States needs to make that process easier as well.

“Let’s give people hope, let’s facilitate legal migration,” Bastien said. “Why can’t Haitians get this? Why must we fight for every little piece of crumb?

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