A South Florida group came together Wednesday calling for the release of more than a dozen Haitian migrants that washed ashore in an alleged smuggling operation earlier this week.
The group of community leaders gathered at Haitian organization FANM's headquarters to ask U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement to release the refugees, including 5 children, that are currently being detained.
"Release at least the children," FANM Executive Director Marleine Bastien said.
The migrants came ashore Monday in the 1000 block of Hillsboro Isle in what Coast Guard officials said appeared to be a smuggling operation. Officials said the smugglers may have been throwing migrants off their boat.
One woman died in the incident and another was hospitalized.
For Haitian refugee advocate Jack Lieberman who was at Monday's rally, the solution for events like these is changing U.S. policy.
"They are refugees fleeing hardship, hardship as bad as anywhere in the Americas," Lieberman said. "If Venezuelans deserve to be here, if Cubans deserve to be here, Haitians deserve to be here."
ICE released the following statement regarding the migrants' detention:
"U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is treating the Haitian nationals who arrived on Monday morning as any other irregular maritime arrival and they will be granted full due process."