Haitian migrants seek escape through South Florida from violence-ridden Port Au Prince
People on the islands sought to escape the violence in their own country in search of a better life.
Hundreds of migrants continued to make their way to the land of the free through South Florida this past week.
The latest group of Haitian migrants that landed in Marathon were taken into custody after their boat was grounded offshore, Monday.
“That’s so sad. Oh my gosh,” said a nearby onlooker.
The migrants were seen by residents off U.S. 1 and Mile Marker 51.
Multiple agencies responded, including U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office and the United States Coast Guard.
Officials said none of the migrants were hurt.
On Saturday, over 300 Haitian migrants were rescued at sea near Key Largo, a few miles away from the Ocean Reef Club.
They were packed into a sailboat just over 40 feet long, with no shade or life vests.
“With over 300 migrants on board a vessel they were extremely dehydrated [and] in very dangerous conditions they were overcrowded they had limited water no life vests so we had EMS on the scene,” said Adam Hoffner with the U.S. Border Patrol.
Haitians continued to flee the island as violence there escalated.
Civilians are caught in the crossfire as police and gangs fight for territory in Port-Au-Prince.
Citizens of the island experienced loss and death.
“They burned my house in Cite Soleil and shot my husband 7 times,” said a woman in Haiti. “I can’t even afford to visit him at the hospital. Down here the children are starving.”
“I have four kids, but my first is missing and I can’t find him. I looked everywhere and I can’t find him,” said another woman.
“My mother and father have died,” said a child living on the island. “My aunt saved me. I want to go to school but it burned down.”
Smugglers sent boats to Florida for a chance at a better life.
“If we die we die, if we make it we make it,” said Johnny, a smuggler. “I am the one who buys the boat. It can cost up to 15,000 dollars. We’re hoping to get to 250 people for the next trip because the boat is big.”
“How will I be able to take care of my family when I have one?” said a Haitian migrant. “I am not afraid. I will be eaten by a shark or make it to America.”
Of the 300 Haitians found off the coast of Key Largo, 186 migrants were taken back to their country.
Two were arrested in connection to the smuggling operation.