52 Haitian migrants land in the Florida Keys
MIAMI (Tribune News Service) — More than 50 Haitian migrants landed in Key Largo Friday morning, according to the U.S. Border Patrol. This marks the second time in a month that a large group of Haitians have come ashore in Florida.
The group of 52 included four children, and about 15 people in need of medical attention, the Monroe County Sheriff's Office said.
They arrived about 7:15 a.m. off Card Sound Road in an old wooden sailboat with the words "Blood of Jesus" written on the side. It is unclear if the arriving migrants came directly from Haiti.
In November, a rickety wooden sailboat washed up in the Upper Florida Keys with at least 63 Haitian migrants. Some of the migrants told U.S. immigration authorities that they had traveled from Haiti and had spent over three weeks out at sea, marking the first time in more than two years that such a large group of Haitians managed to evade U.S. Coast Guard crews patrolling the Florida Straits. The group was eventually transferred to the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and taken to Broward Transitional Immigration.
The Haitian migrant landings come amid a worsening humanitarian and security crisis in Haiti, where the president was assassinated in July and a deadly earthquake struck five weeks later, killing more than 2,200 Haitians along the southern peninsula. With ongoing recovery slowed by gang violence, clashing gangs have also forced the displacement of more than 19,000 Haitians since June.
And a kidnapping surge has led to the abduction of more than 800 individuals this year, including 17 missionaries with a U.S.-based charity on Oct. 16. Last week, 12 remaining hostages were finally released after two months in captivity.
Since mid-September when thousands of Haitians showed up at the U.S. southern border with Mexico in Del Rio, Texas, the Biden administration has expelled more than 11,900 Haitians from the United States onboard 111 ICE charter flights, including three flights on Thursday.
Among a reported 368 Haitians returned to Haiti this week were 45 children, including a 9-day old infant who was born in Mexico and sent to Haiti with her 29-year-old mother. They had spent six days in detention facilities in Arizona and Texas, said Steve Forester, the immigration policy coordinator for the Institute of Justice & Democracy in Haiti.
Forester, a Haitian community and immigration activist who lives in Miami, said there are no words to describe the continued deportation of Haitians by the Biden administration, which has expelled more than 14,000 since January.
The expulsions "are obscene" and lack humanity, Forester said. "Sending human beings to such conditions — 44% of them are women and children, including infants — dumping them there, it is completely against any notion of humanity," he said.
"Haitians love their country and want to stay," Forester added. "But as long as conditions of desperation exist such as they are, inevitably people are going to seek to leave. The obligation, the challenge, the task for the United States is to finally get its policy right for Haiti. Instead of supporting corrupt, democratic leaders, we need to support the robust civil society that is ready with a plan forward."
Since Oct. 1, the U.S. Coast Guard has interdicted 332 Haitians at sea. During the previous fiscal year, Oct. 1, 2020, to September 30, 2021, 1,527 Haitians were interdicted at sea.
On Friday, the U.S. Coast Guard said that it had repatriated 39 Cubans to Cuba following four interdictions due to safety of life at sea concerns off the Florida Keys.
©2021 Miami Herald.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.