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Press Release | July 28, 2023

Homeland Security Task Force – Southeast continues to save lives, defend maritime borders

MIAMI — Homeland Security Task Force – Southeast (HSTF-SE) partner agencies continue to emphasize the prevention and deterrence of unlawful maritime migration to the continental United States and the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. 

In August 2022, HSTF-SE enhanced its operational posture across all federal, state and local partner agencies in response to increased irregular, illegal migration through maritime approaches to the southeastern United States. 

“The U.S. maritime borders remain closed to unlawful migration attempts or illicit smuggling of humans, harmful drugs or dangerous weapons. Taking to the sea is not an option; anyone considering taking to the seas to emigrate illegally to the United States will be interdicted and returned to their country of origin. Your only option for safe passage is to do so through legal pathways,” said Chief Patrol Agent Walter N. Slosar, deputy director of HSTF-SE and Chief of U.S. Border Patrol Miami Sector. “Our DHS-led Task Force partners are committed to our missions of saving lives and enforcing U.S. laws and policy throughout the Florida Straits and Caribbean. The Task Force and the Coast Guard have an active, robust presence from the mainland United States to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to uphold our commitment to homeland and maritime security, projected outward on offense rather than playing goal-line defense.” 

Recent decreases in the frequency of migrant ventures are attributed to the increased Task Force posture, a whole-of-government response by land, air and sea to deter maritime migration, and to the lawful immigration parole processes announced by DHS in January. Anyone who unlawfully attempts to reach the U.S. by sea or who arrives by sea unlawfully will not be permitted to remain in the United States. They will be processed for return to their country of origin or departure, in accordance with U.S. law and policy. 

As previously announced, migrants attempting to enter the U.S. unlawfully by sea will be disqualified indefinitely from the legal immigration parole policy for Cubans and Haitians announced in January. 

  • Regardless of nationality, migrants interdicted at sea by Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations, Coast Guard, or state law enforcement crews will be repatriated to their country of origin or returned to their country of departure by the Coast Guard. 

  • Anyone who arrives unlawfully by sea to the mainland U.S. or our territories will be apprehended by Border Patrol and processed for removal to their country of origin by Immigration and Customs Enforcement – Enforcement and Removal Operations, with a five-year ban on reentry. 

  • Suspected human smuggling events will be investigated by Homeland Security Investigations for prosecution by the Department of Justice. 

  • Customs and Border Protection Office of Field Operations will continue to process airport and seaport arrivals. 

The Departments of Homeland Security and State are working together on a strategic approach to address migration challenges throughout the Western Hemisphere. HSTF-SE components are engaged in a widespread messaging campaign to provide accurate information to national and international audiences, and to counter misinformation or disinformation in deterrence attempts to reach the U.S. unlawfully by sea. 

The Task Force maintains continual awareness of migrant flow rates and the geopolitical, social, economic and security environments of source nations among the factors that might influence maritime migration trends. This constant monitoring allows forces to adjust as necessary to meet the challenges associated with defense of our U.S. maritime borders. 

HSTF-SE serves as the DHS lead for operational and tactical planning, command and control, and as a standing organization to deter, mitigate and respond to maritime mass migration in the Caribbean Sea and the Florida Straits. HSTF-SE continues enhanced enforcement efforts in support of Operation Vigilant Sentry, the 2004 DHS plan to respond to irregular maritime migration in the Caribbean Sea and the Straits of Florida. 

For updates on HSTF-SE enforcement efforts, follow us or our Unified Command federal components on Twitter:  @HSTF_Southeast, @USCGSoutheast, @USBPChiefMIP, @CBPAMORegDirSE, @DFOFlorida, @CBPFlorida, @HSI_Miami, @EROMiami, @CBPSoutheast, @USBPChiefRMY, @CBPCaribbean, @HSISanJuan, @USEmbassyNassau, @USEmbCuba, @USEmbassyHaiti, @EmbajadaUSAenRD, @USCISMediaSouth, @USCIS

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