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Press Release | Dec. 12, 2023

Coast Guard repatriates 20 migrants to Dominican Republic, following interdiction of unlawful migration voyage in the Mona Passage

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Coast Guard Cutter Pablo Valent’s crew repatriated 20 migrants to San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic, Friday, following the interdiction of an overloaded makeshift vessel in Mona Passage waters off the western coast of Puerto Rico.  

“Unlawful irregular migration voyages represent a danger to all migrants, especially in a place like the Mona Passage where sea-state conditions are so unpredictable and dangerous,” said Cmdr. Gerard Wenk, Sector San Juan chief of response. “We urge anyone thinking about taking part in one of these voyages that they do not take to the sea, it could save their life.” 

During a routine patrol Thursday afternoon, the aircrew of a Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine multirole enforcement aircraft detected a suspect vessel in Mona Passage waters northwest of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. Coast Guard watchstanders at Sector San Juan diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Richard Dixon to intercept the grossly overloaded vessel. Once on scene, the cutter Richard Dixon crew launched the unit’s Over the Horizon small boat, stopped the makeshift vessel and safely embarked 17 men and three women, who claimed to be Dominican Republic nationals.   

Migrants who are interdicted at sea or apprehended ashore will not be allowed to stay in the United States or a U.S. territory. Furthermore, anyone who arrives unlawfully may be declared ineligible for legal immigration parole options and be repatriated to their country of origin or returned to the country from where the voyage departed from. 

The Coast Guard, along with its Homeland Security Task Force – Southeast partners, maintains a continual presence with air, land, and sea assets in the Florida Straits, the Windward Passage, the Mona Passage and the Caribbean Sea. The HSTF-SE combined, multi-layered approach is designed to protect the safety of life at sea while preventing unlawful maritime entry to the United States and its territories.  

Since Oct. 1, 2023, through Nov. 30, 2023, the Coast Guard has carried out 14 unlawful irregular migration voyage interdictions in the Mona Passage and waters near Puerto Rico. Interdicted during this period, are 475 non-U.S. citizens including 461 Dominicans, and 14 Haitians. 

Since Oct. 1, 2022, through Sep. 30, 2023, the Coast Guard has carried out 67 unlawful irregular maritime migration voyage interdictions in the Mona Passage and waters near Puerto Rico. Interdicted during this period, are 2,161 non-U.S. citizens including 1,871 Dominicans, 264 Haitians, 15 Venezuelans, 07 Kazakhs, 01 Albanian, 02 Colombians and 01 unknown nationality.  

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