On Monday, the Coast Guard intercepted a 50-foot boat just outside of Florida that had 396 Haitian migrants.
The U.S. Coast Guard detained a 50-foot boat between Florida and Cuba, just outside of the Bahamas. This boat had 396 migrants from Haiti crammed together as they made way into American waters. This is one of the largest human smuggling operations in the area.
Nicole Groll, a U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) spokeswoman described the dangerous conditions aboard the vessel to The Associated Press on Monday. “It was grossly overloaded and very much unsafe,” she said. Bahamian officials said they will be processed on the Bahamian island of Inagua and repatriated to Haiti.
Officials did not immediately provide further details.
The goal of this human smuggling operation was to drop the 396 Haitian migrants into the Florida Keys. This chain of islands has been hit before with massive amounts of migrants, but this is one of the largest attempted drops to date.
The Haitian Exodus
According to Fox News, thousands of Haitians are fleeing a spike in gang violence and deepening political instability in a country that currently has no democratically elected institutions. Many travel to the Bahamas and other nearby islands in hopes of eventually reaching Florida. The voyages are often deadly, with migrants crowding into makeshift vessels that have capsized in recent months.
More than 2,000 Haitians and 5,180 Cubans migrating by boat have been intercepted by the USCG since the beginning of October.
The Biden Administration recently announced that it would start turning back Haitians, Nicaraguans and Venezuelans at the Texas border who arrived to the United States illegally. The administration is now offering humanitarian parole for 30,000 people a month from those countries if they secure a financial sponsor, apply online and pay their airfare.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.