Diaspora

Coast Guard intercepts sailboat packed with as many as 200 Haitian migrants off Biscayne Bay – CBS Miami

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By Ashley Dyer
Updated on: July 21, 2022 / 5:44 PM / CBS Miami
MIAMI A sailboat, tightly packed with 150 to 200 people, ran aground near Boca Chita in Biscayne Bay Thursday morning.  The people aboard are believed to be Haitian migrants.  As rising violence takes its toll back home, Haitian activists say more and more people are making dangerous journeys, trying to get to the US.
Crews say there is a perimeter set up miles out into Biscayne Bay as they evaluate and speak with people on board the sailboat. They were given food and water and evaluated.  At least two women, a man and a child were transported to a nearby hospital.
“It’s human for these families to risk everything to try and make it to the land of the free where they can be safe,” said Marlene Bastien, a Haitian activist.
Around 9:15 this morning, a boater spotted a grounded sailboat, tightly packed with migrants near Boca Chita in Biscayne Bay.
“These ventures are inherently dangerous.  These vessels aren’t necessarily seaworthy.  They’re grossly overloaded.  They don’t have proper safety gear.  It’s not like people are planning for the weather when they come to make these voyages to the US,” said Ryan Estrada, a spokesperson for the US Coast Guard.
But Bastien said Haiti has become overrun with violence.
“Haiti is a country at war.  It’s on lock.  People are suffering.  It’s a burning hell,” she said.
She said gangs are wreaking havoc and state sponsored violence has become a major concern.
“Haiti has been going through one of the worst crisis’ in history where thousands and thousands are being forced out of their homes,” Bastien said.
From October of 2021 to late June, Coast Guard crews interdicted 6,114 Haitian migrants.  That’s more than four times the number of Haitians interdicted in 2021 and more than 14 times the amount from 2020.
“There are kidnappings.  Raping of women and girls.  If it so dangerous how can we deporting men, women and children, babies who are only a few days old to there,” said Bastien.
Customs and Border Protection air and marine units were on scene as well as Miami-Dade police and fire rescue.  Crews say there may be more than 200 people packed on to the sailboat.  CBS4 asked them what happens next.
“Today, they’ll be interdicted, and we’ll be working to get them on Coast Guard vessels and repatriated into their country,” said Estrada.
Immigration attorney’s CBS4 spoke with say the migrants should be given a credible fear interview which could result in some of them being able to remain in the US.  That decision is determined on a case-by-case basis.
Activists say the dangerous migrations will likely continue until the violence ends and the root of the problem is addressed.
Ashley Dyer is CBS4 reporter who joined our team of outstanding journalists in October 2021. You can catch her daily in the 5 & 6 p.m. newscasts.
First published on July 21, 2022 / 10:50 AM
© 2022 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.
©2022 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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