Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Coast Guard Near PR Repatriates Haitians

(U.S. Coast Guard photo) The Coast Guard Cutter Sapelo transfers 38 Haitian migrants to the Coast Guard Cutter Bear Sept. 9, 2013.

This article relates to our work on immigration and deportations.

Coast Guard Repatriates 38 Haitians to Cap Haitien, Haiti

From Coast Guard News

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Vigilant repatriated 38 Haitian migrants to Cap Haitien, Haiti Thursday, following an at-sea interdiction Saturday, in the proximity of Mona Island, Puerto Rico.

A patrolling HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft from Coast Guard Air Station Miami detected a 25-foot rustic vessel with 41 migrants aboard. Coast Guard Sector San Juan watchstanders relayed the information to the Coast Guard Cutter Sapelo, who responded to interdict the migrant vessel. The cutter Sapelo arrived on scene, interdicted and safely embarked all 41 migrants.

The cutter Sapelo rendezvoused with CBP Border Patrol agents in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, Sunday, who came aboard and interviewed the undocumented migrants and took three of the 41 interdicted migrants into custody.

The Sapelo transferred the remaining 38 migrants to the Coast Guard Cutter Bear custody Monday for further transport and transfer to the Coast Guard Cutter Vigilant.  The crew of the Vigilant repatriated the remaining 38 Haitian migrants Thursday upon transferring them to Haitian authorities in Cap Haitien, Haiti.

“This is a mass tragedy just waiting to happen, people are going to die” said Capt. Drew Pearson, Coast Guard Sector San Juan commander.  “Smugglers are getting more ruthless by the minute, they continue to push the limits by grossly overloading these makeshift and unseaworthy wooden boats with so many people and no safeguards in place to protect them. For those thinking about taking to the sea, don’t do it, it could cost you your life.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Puerto Rico will be filing charges against two of the interdicted group members, both citizens of the Dominican Republic, for illegal reentry after a previous removal from the United States.  U.S. Immigration authorities will also be conducting the expedited removal of a third Dominican Republic national interdicted.

Coast Guard air and surface assets involved in the interdiction were working in support of the Caribbean Border Interagency Group, Operation Caribbean Guard and Operation Unified Resolve.

“The Coast Guard and our partner agencies continue to diligently patrol the waters of the Caribbean Sea to deter illegal migrant activity,” said Capt. Mark Fedor, Coast Guard Seventh District chief of enforcement. “Migrants attempting to illegally migrate into the United States will be repatriated from where they came.”

Once aboard a Coast Guard cutter, migrants receive food, water, shelter and basic medical attention.

For more information on how to legally immigrate to the U.S., call U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) at 1-800-375-5283 or visit the USCIS website at

CBIG was formally created to unify efforts of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the United States Attorney‘s Office for the District of Puerto Rico, and Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action, in their common goal of securing the borders of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands against illegal migrant and drug smuggling.

The Coast Guard’s efforts under Operation Unified Resolve contribute to the interagency results being achieved each and every day locally under Operation Caribbean Guard, which coordinates efforts between the Coast Guard, its DHS, Commonwealth and Territorial law enforcement partners, who are working diligently to deter, detect and disrupt illicit maritime trafficking to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Coast Guard Cutters Sapelo is a 110-foot patrol boat homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The Coast Guard Cutter Bear is a 270-foot Medium Endurance Cutter homeported in Portsmouth, Va.

The Coast Guard Cutter Vigilant is a  210-foot Medium Endurance Cutter homeported in Port Canaveral, Fla.

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