LAKE MARY, Fla. - Haitian-Americans say refugees have been heading to Central Florida, where many are staying with families.
"They’re staying with us, they’re our family," says Gerline Atibel, who now has a full house with family in Winter Haven.
She says her cousins lived in Haiti but decided to leave. She explains their situation because they don't speak English.
"Because of the earthquake and ever since then, things have not been right for them. In Haiti there’s a lot of violence, people was dying, they didn’t have any jobs there to survive."
She says her relatives Windy Pierre, his wife Vanessa, and their 1 ½-year-old son, Owen, saved up money to go from Haiti to Chili to Mexico and then take a flight to Texas.
"We paid for the ticket for them to come from Texas."
They say the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) placed GPS monitors on them and other refugees before heading to the U.S.
She tells us, they don’t have any prior criminal history.
"When they was leaving the refugee camp getting ready to get on the airplane, that’s when they put it on them."
As they sit with their family, it’s difficult for them to watch other Haitians trying to get to the United States.
"They went through so much they’re at the point that they’re numb. But to see the situation that our own people are going through it’s a very hurtful feeling."
The family has a meeting with INS in November.
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