Another migrant crisis has developed separate from the southern border.
Federal law enforcement and military personnel patrolling the waters surrounding Florida and Puerto Rico have seen record numbers of Cubans and Haitians attempting to enter the U.S. illegally, the Washington Examiner reported.
Department of Homeland Security authorities with the Coast Guard told the Examiner that more migrants are being stopped at sea than ever before.
The Coast Guard has encountered migrants packed into low-grade vessels in such places as the Florida Keys, Miami Beach, and off the Puerto Rico coast daily. Migrants who reach landfall or swam ashore are taken into custody by Border Patrol.
The military service has intercepted more than 10,000 people in the southeastern coast of Florida and waters around Haiti and Puerto Rico since October. Nearly 8,000 of those were detained around South Florida and the Florida Keys.
The migrants included roughly 6,100 were from Haiti — four times more Haitian migrants than the previous 12-month record – and 3,400 from Cuba.
The Coast Guard transported the people it interdicted back to Cuba and Haiti. The service does not arrest or detain migrants.
Border Patrol (BP) agents out of Miami have apprehended an additional 2,000 people since October, the Examiner reported. Those migrants were apprehended and brought into custody.
The Cuban government has refused to take back its citizens under removal procedures. Thus, Cuban migrants who reach land largely avoid being deported.
"Interdiction at sea is a Coast Guard function and individuals who are intercepted at sea do not get processed under immigration laws. Haitians ... are taken back to Guantanamo Bay and processed at the Migrant Operations Center (MOC), then deported back to their home countries," Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, policy director at the Washington-based American Immigration Council, wrote in a message to the Examiner.
Because the Coast Guard has been encountering people at sea, Border Patrol apprehensions have not topped the 2007 record of 7,000.
CBP’s Air and Marine Operations agents have assisted the Coast Guard and Border Patrol on the ground.
"A lot of these boats are being intercepted by Coast Guard because of the collaboration," a CBP spokesman told the Examiner. "Coast Guard has their detection technology as well. When you put both the resources together, it's an amazing effort to do that — to intercept at sea."
WSVN reported that six Cuban migrants arrived in Dania Beach, Florida, via a makeshift boat on Thursday. U.S. Border Patrol confirmed to the station that they were notified of a suspected maritime smuggling event and added agents were conducting a search.
More than 170,000 people from Cuba and Haiti have attempted to cross the U.S.-Mexico border since last October — 10 times more than all of 2020 and the highest-ever number of Cubans and Haitians seeking asylum in the U.S.
"Just from Cuba alone, we already have more people in the last nine months than the entire Mariel boatlift. That's just from one country — just from one country," Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said Wednesday, the Examiner reported.
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