MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) — The families of five men and women who survived a failed smuggling operation last week and had to be plucked from the waters off Miami have asked U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for their release.
At a news conference Monday morning Marleine Bastien, executive director of Haitian Women of Miami, and the family members spoke about the status of the survivors and asked ICE to release them without delay.
Since the news broke, Ysena Alcinor has been trying to find out if her 37-year-old niece and the woman’s 15-year-old son were among the survivors being detained by immigration officials — or if the niece was among those who died.
“We are suffering a lot,” Alcinor said at a news conference in Miami’s Little Haiti.
Bastien and Haitian-American author Edwidge Danticat, whose elderly uncle died in U.S. custody after fleeing violence in Haiti in 2004, called on immigration officials to release the survivors.
“We believe these refugees were traumatized,” Bastien said. “We believe they’ve suffered enough.”
Four women died and 11 people were rescued when the overloaded boat capsized last week seven miles east of Miami.
Drowning was the cause of death in all four cases, said Larry Cameron, director of operations at the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner’s Office.
One has been identified as a 38-year-old Haitian woman, Carmen Valeris, but no one has come forward to identify the other three victims, Cameron said.
Six of the survivors, including the boat’s captain and a crewman, now face federal charges.
The remaining survivors are being detained pending an investigation by ICE.
Officials say all the survivors are Haitian, Bahamian or Jamaican. None had permission to enter the U.S. According to court documents filed last week, the boat’s voyage began in the Bahamas.|
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