Haitian minor among 30 undocumented Caribbean migrants apprehended off Puerto Rico

The content originally appeared on: Caribbean News Service

The United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency says agents recently apprehended 30 undocumented Caribbean migrants, including a Haitian juvenile, during two separate migrant smuggling incidents off the coast of Puerto Rico.

According to CBP, in the early morning hours of January 30, a Puerto Rico Police FURA unit intercepted a “yola” type makeshift vessel with 14 men – 12 adults from the Dominican Republic, one juvenile from the Dominican Republic, and one Haitian juvenile.

CBP said agents transported the group to the Ramey station for removal proceedings.

At about 9:30 a.m., CBP said “a concerned citizen contacted Ramey Radio to inform of a migrant smuggling event near Jobos beach in Isabela.”

CBP said border patrol agents, along with Isabela Municipal Police and Puerto Rico Police Department FURA agents, searched the area, and after several hours, apprehended 16 migrants.

It said all migrants, who claimed to be citizens of the Dominican Republic, were processed under Title 8 of the US immigration law.

“Smugglers and bad actors continue to spread falsehoods and show complete disregard for the safety and well-being of vulnerable migrants venturing on the Mona Passage,” said Desi DeLeon, Chief Patrol Agent for Ramey Sector.

“We continue to warn migrants on the continuing dangers of such a journey.”

CBP said migrants who venture to cross the 80 nautical miles (130 kilometre) between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, “on board a rustic and inadequate vessel, risk their lives, as well as the lives of law enforcement in both countries, tasked with the rescue mission.

“The dangers of the trip include the victimisation of undocumented immigrants from the smuggling organisations, the inconvenience of a criminal prosecution, and the loss of life at sea,” it said.

CBP said the Ramey Sector is one of 21 sectors spread out across the United States.

Encompassing the US territorial islands of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, it is the only Border Patrol Sector located outside the continental United States.

CBP said the sector’s entire border area comprises coastline and its area of responsibility is made up of some 6,000 square miles of land and water area, including the 12-mile band of territorial water surrounding the islands.

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