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'They Deserve To Be Heard': Community Leader Says Haitian Migrants Who Risked Their Lives To Reach US Should Be Given Chance To Stay

DANIA BEACH (CBSMiami) – The silhouettes of Haitian migrants could be seen through the windows as buses packed with a group that came ashore Monday made their way to into a Customs and Border Protection station.

"It is horrible, it's a country at war," said community leader Marleine Bastien, describing the horrific conditions in Haiti that she says prompted the migrants to attempt coming into the country.

"When we see our brothers and sister risking their lives on rickety boats to make it to the land of the free, we know that the situation is worsening in Haiti," added Bastien.

Bastien says the situation is especially dire for women and children.

"The past few months women and children have suffered tremendously. When they're kidnapped, they are gang raped and then killed. Even regular merchants, regular people aren't safe."

The boat of about 120 migrants attempted to leave the chaos behind. The sailboat arrived at around 11 a.m. Monday in front of mansions that lined the beach of a residential community in Summerland Key, which is about 20 miles north of Key West.

"When the boat ran aground, they started making their way to the shore. Everybody that arrived today is fairly healthy. There are four subjects that needed to be transported to the hospital. We provided them medical care immediately, and rest of the Haitian noncitizens arrive today are in good condition," said Border Patrol officer Peter Daniel.

This is the third large group of Haitian migrants to arrive in South Florida in less than a month.

Officials say the group will be processed and interviewed at Customs and Border Protection facilities.

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U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents responded to a human smuggling incident involving a large group of Haitian migrants in Monroe County. (Source: Monroe Co. Sheriff's Office)

And, Bastien says, if history is any indication of what happens next, that group will eventually be deported.

"It is unacceptable that the U.S. is sending them back without due process," she said. "Because 366 came on last Sunday, a week ago, and then 200 were sent back on Thursday. A complete violation of their basic rights because they are bona fide refugees. They deserve to be heard."


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