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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Weird Law: Haitians in US Custody Unable, For 3 Months, To Bury Their Infant Daughter

Advocates: Release 2 Haitians to bury baby daughter who drowned when boat capsized off Fla. - WPIX
Jennifer Kay writes:

Advocates in Miami's Little Haiti pressed federal authorities Tuesday to release the 8-month-old girl's parents so they can bury the child they lost in the fast-flowing Gulf Stream current and to fight the government's efforts to deport them back to Haiti.

The body of Luana Augustin was among nine recovered from the ocean. The infant remains at the Palm Beach County medical examiner's office, along with the bodies of three other women who died in the accident and have not been identified.

Chandeline Leonard, 32, and Lucsene Augustin, 26, have been in U.S. custody since May 13 when the boat capsized and sank off Boynton Beach, some 60 miles north of Miami.

The grief-stricken couple from Port-de-Paix, Haiti, are plagued with nightmares about the baby's drowning and need counseling and the ability to plan Luana's funeral, relatives and advocates said.

"It's very critical for her" to see the baby buried, said Leonard's cousin, Albert Noel of Miami.

Marleine Bastien, executive director of Haitian Women of Miami, said the Department of Homeland Security has not responded to the couple's request for humanitarian parole, which is occasionally granted for pregnant women or others with serious medical conditions.

"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 to be with family," Bastien said.
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