Over 100 migrants were rescued near Ocean Reef off the coast of Florida early Monday morning, according to Miami-Dade Fire Rescue officials.
A Customs and Border Protection spokesperson provided Newsweek with the following comment: “On January 10, 2022, at approximately 4:45 a.m., U.S. Customs and Border Protection [CBP] components along with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners responded to a maritime smuggling event involving a large group of migrants that made landfall near Ocean Reef in Key Largo, Florida.”
“The investigation regarding this incident remains ongoing,” the spokesperson added.
WTVJ reported that the people on board were Haitian migrants, and at least 20 people needed medical attention after arriving onshore. At least two adults and two children were transported to a local hospital. Their conditions are currently unknown.
Southeast Regional Director John Priddy of the CBP Air and Marine Operations tweeted on Monday, “Don’t take to the sea…!” and listed the law enforcement agents who responded to the incident.
A similar incident occurred on December 24, 2021, when 52 Haitian migrants were taken into custody after making landfall in Key Largo.
Last year saw a record number of Haitian immigrants attempting to reach the U.S. as the country was rocked by political crises and natural disasters, including the assassination of Prime Minister Jovenel Moïse in July and a 7.2 magnitude earthquake that took place days later, leaving over 2,000 people dead.
According to the Migration Policy Institute, 42,000 Haitian immigrants were apprehended at the southern border in the first eight months of 2021.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas reported in September that about 12,400 people were allowed to enter the country temporarily, while they waited to make claims before an immigration judge.
Meanwhile, the Biden administration’s Temporary Protected Status (TPS) has allowed for extended protections for nearly 55,000 Haitians already with TPS in America, allowing them temporary work authorization and protection from deportation for at least 18 months.
Mass amounts of individuals from Haiti have also begun to overwhelm Mexico, and the city of Tapachula has been deemed an “open air prison” for those attempting to cross from Central America to the United States on land.
“Traditionally, [migrants in the city] used to be mostly Central Americans. Now, it’s mainly Haitians and that’s created a different dynamic, and with migrants in general, some areas of the city can be quite tense because of xenophobia,” Julio Rank Wright, deputy regional director for Latin America at the International Rescue Committee (IRC), told Newsweek in an earlier report. The crisis has created caravans of over 2,000 attempting to move as one large group to escape the city.
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