The U.S. Coast Guard returned hundreds of Haitians attempting to migrate to the United States on a small vessel back to their home country this week.
The agency announced Tuesday Cutter Valiant and Cutter Legares responded to reports of a vessel packed with people sailing off Florida’s coast, approximately 23 miles northwest of Mole Saint Nicolas, Haiti, at about 7:30 a.m. on Jan. 26.
A USCG Operation Bahamas Turks and Caicos MH-60 Jayhawk aircrew saw the boat and notified Coast Guard District Seven watchstanders.
The USCG said 309 Haitians were taken back to Haiti following the interdiction. The group was a mixture of men, women and children.
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In a statement, Petty Officer 1st Class Nicole Groll, of Coast Guard District Seven, strongly advised against attempting to sail to America.
“Attempting to migrate by sea in a less than seaworthy vessel is not only illegal but, also extremely dangerous,” Groll said. “The sea is unforgiving, and these voyages can cost you your life.”
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The Coast Guard said all migrants received food, water, shelter and basic medical attention once aboard the cutters. They were taken back to Haiti on Monday and Tuesday.
Since Oct. 1, 2022, the USCG said crews have stopped 2,513 Haitian migrants from making it to America. The number of Haitians attempting to make it to U.S. soil has significantly increased over the past three years.
Previous years break down as follows: 7,175 Haitians in Fiscal Year 2022, 1,527 in FY 2021, 418 in FY 2020, 932 in FY 2019, 609 in FY 2018 and 419 in FY 2017.