WATCH: Tensions high in the wake of the “JustICE: NYC July 4th Protest.”
A group of nearly 300 Haitian migrants, on the run after fleeing Hurricane Matthew, have been released by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to a church group in Connecticut.
“The release of Honduran and Haitian nationals came following petitions filed with ICE to the status of DACA and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for that group,” the International Institute of Connecticut wrote in a statement.
According to ICE, eight members of the crew of a supply boat that brought supplies to Puerto Rico in early 2016 attempted to illegally enter the United States the next day. They were arrested and the United States government granted them Temporary Protected Status (TPS) in October 2017. Under TPS, the Haitians were allowed to remain in the United States for two years.
However, not all Haitians living in the United States received TPS. In a statement in November 2017, the Department of Homeland Security said that as of August 2, 2017, there were 129,000 Haitians living in the United States who did not receive TPS.
The DHS has said that it will grant people the two-year TPS status in order to allow the State Department time to determine conditions on the island are no longer so dangerous that they would merit an extension. The statement did not mention Haiti by name, however, according to CNN.
“Based on both the department’s role and its obligations under federal law, the department continues to exercise its discretion, when necessary, in determining whether a particular subset of beneficiaries deserves or may receive TPS,” the statement said.
Under ICE, the nearly 300 people were then interviewed by a Homeland Security department official who determined that none of them suffered from a danger to themselves or the community. According to the International Institute of Connecticut, the the Mexican Christian Council in the Bronx arranged for them to be placed at a church in Fairfield County.
“We brought everyone here so we could care for them and offer whatever help we could for them as well as for the community around us,” said Isabel Reed, the director of Crossway Home, the agency that provided shelter for the immigrants. “It’s not something that happens very often, so I’m very glad it happened here.”
“Some of the Haitians have had traumatic experiences that led them to seek refuge in the United States,” said Cece Ottey, director of International Institute of Connecticut. “These were people who were not subject to deportation but others who came to us with more straightforward intentions.”
“Many of the Haitians were very desperate for a peaceful resolution to their plight and sought ways to hold ourselves accountable and make this a non-issue,” Ottey said.
Following Hurricane Matthew, which hit Haiti in October 2016, over a hundred people were killed, displaced, and millions were impacted. Since then, over 9,000 Haitians have turned themselves in to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Despite the release of the nearly 300 Haitian migrants, seven additional Haitians remain at Border Field State Park in California and await deportation.