Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Advocates: Release 2 Haitians To Bury Daughter

Aug 11, 2009 3:03 pm US/Eastern

Advocates: Release 2 Haitians To Bury Daughter

CBS 4 - Miami

(Read the original article here)

MIAMI (CBS4) ―Marleine Bastien, head of the nonprofit Haitian Women of Miami, and other Haitian community leaders made a plea to President Barack Obama and Homeland Security officials on Tuesday to release a Haitian couple who have been detained for nearly three months.

Chandeline Leonard and Lucsene Augustine have been detained since May 14 when their boat capsized and sank off Boynton Beach. They were among 16 survivors. Their 8-month-old daughter, Luana Augustin, drowned. The baby's body was among nine recovered.

Her body remains at a Palm Beach County morgue. Haitian community leaders in Miami are asking the federal government for the release of the girl's parents from federal custody so they can bury their child.

"Think about it, that child who's in a morgue and those parents who are behind bars and only by the strike of a pen we can address that situation. So today, we're asking for compassion," said state representative Ronald Brise.

"These parents are in need of immediate intervention in order to deal with the trauma of losing their baby girl," exclaimed Marleine Bastien. "Thus, as a matter of human decency, they should have been released in order to bury their little baby girl, to deal with their immigration cases, and in order to be with their family and friends who are prepared to support them as they begin the necessary healing process," said Bastien.

The bodies of three other victims remain unidentified. As many as 35 people were on the boat. Two people, Jean Monique Nelson and Jimmy Metellus, have been charged with alien smuggling resulting in death.

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