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Press Release | Sept. 28, 2023

HSTF-SE sustains enhanced force posture to rescue, repatriate migrants

MIAMI — Homeland Security Task Force-Southeast (HSTF-SE) federal, state and local partner agencies continue to patrol by land, air and sea to prevent and deter irregular, unlawful maritime migration to the United States.

The U.S. maritime borders and approaches, including the territories of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, are constantly patrolled to counter illicit trafficking and prevent illegal entry.

“Our U.S. maritime borders are not open and taking to the sea is not an option. Anyone desiring to come to the United States must do so through safe, legal pathways,” said Rear Admiral Doug Schofield, HSTF-SE Director and Coast Guard District Seven Commander. “Our DHS-led Task Force partners are committed to saving lives and enforcing U.S. laws and policy throughout the Florida Straits and Caribbean.”

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

  • 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, including Advanced Travel Authorizations.
  • The Task Force works continuously with Caribbean nations via U.S. Embassy staffs and Coast Guard liaison officers to ensure maritime domain awareness and maintain maritime repatriation capabilities.
  • There are consequences for unlawful entry. Do not believe the lies of smugglers. As of Aug. 3, 2023, those who fail to use one of the many lawful, safe and orderly pathways DHS has expanded and attempt to enter the United States unlawfully are presumed ineligible for asylum and, if they do not have a basis to remain, are subject to prompt removal, a minimum five-year bar on admission, and potential criminal prosecution for unlawful reentry. Don’t take to the 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 was established in 2003 and 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 the latest fact sheets and press releases on border security, visit DHS Fact Sheets or DHS Press Releases.

For news and updates from HSTF-SE, follow us on “X” (formerly Twitter) at @HSTF_Southeast and our Task Force’s Unified Command federal components:  @USCGSoutheast, @USBPChiefMIP, @CBPAMORegDirSE, @DFOFlorida, @CBPFlorida, @HSI_Miami, @EROMiami, @CBPSoutheast, @USBPChiefRMY, @CBPCaribbean, @HSISanJuan, @USEmbassyNassau, @USEmbCuba, @USEmbassyHaiti, @EmbajadaUSAenRD, @USCISMediaSouth, @USCIS.