Seventy-seven migrants attempting to enter the United States illegally have been repatriated to Cuba and the Bahamas over the last week, according to the United States Coast Guard.
The Coast Guard also interdicted three vessels carrying a total of 96 migrants from the Dominican Republic in the Mona Straits – an area between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico which connects the Caribbean Sea with the Atlantic Ocean.
The US Coast Guard said with assistance from Homeland Security Task Force it would maintain “a continual presence with air, land, and sea assets in the Florida Straits, the Windward Passage, the Mona Passage and the Caribbean Sea, collaborating to protect the safety of life at sea.
“Don’t take to the sea, as it’s a dangerous voyage and you could lose your life,” warned Lieutenant Matt Miller, District Seven response law enforcement officer.
“Our maritime borders are closed for unlawful entry to the US,” he added. “If you attempt it, it will result in your disqualification for the Cuba and Haiti parole process.”
“We urge anyone seeking to cross the Mona Passage by any unlawful means to not take to the sea,” warned Lieutenant Commander Edward Kunigonis, Sector San Juan chief of enforcement.
“These voyages are highly dangerous and, most often, take place aboard grossly overloaded and unseaworthy vessels that have no lifesaving equipment,” he added. “If you are caught, you could also face possible prosecution, be returned to your country of origin, or be disqualified from entering the United States legally in the future.”
During the first interdiction event, the US Coast Guard said the cutter Donald Horsley interdicted a 35-foot makeshift vessel after an aircrew detected the suspect vessel west of Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico.
The crew of the cutter Donald Horsley embarked all 64 adult migrants of which 62 claimed to be Dominican Republic nationals, and two others claimed to be Haitians, the US Coast Guard said.
In the second interdiction, it said the cutter Donald Horsley interdicted a 23-foot makeshift after watchstanders received a distress call on VHF Channel 16 of a vessel taking on water southwest of Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico.
The crew of the Cutter Donald Horsley arrived on the scene and embarked two adult migrants, including one Haitian and a Dominican Republic national, the US Coast Guard said.
During the third interdiction, the US Coast Guard said the Donald Horsley interdicted a 25-foot makeshift vessel after the aircrew of a Coast Guard HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft detected the suspect vessel northwest of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico.
The crew of the Donald Horsley embarked 30 adult migrants of which 26 claimed to be Dominican Republic nationals and the remaining four claimed to be Haitians, the US Coast Guard said.
It said the Donald Horsley crew transferred all 96 migrants to a Dominican Republic Navy vessel just off the coast of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.
Since October 1, 2022, the US Coast Guard said its crews interdicted or encountered 6,701 Cubans and 4,512 Haitian migrants.
MIAMI, May 28, 2023, CMC