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Press Release | Feb. 8, 2024

Coast Guard repatriates 28 migrants to Dominican Republic, following unlawful migration voyage interdiction in the Mona Passage

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Donald Horsley repatriated 28 migrants to Dominican Republic, Wednesday, following the interdiction of an unlawful irregular migration voyage in the Mona Passage.

The repatriated migrants included two other migrants from a separate case.

The interdiction occurred after the aircrew of a Customs and Border Protection multi-role enforcement aircraft detected a grossly overloaded makeshift vessel in Mona Passage waters just off Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico, late Sunday night. The suspect vessel was transiting from the Dominican Republic in an attempt to enter the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico. 

Coast Guard watchstanders in Sector San Juan diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Paul Clark to interdict the suspect vessel, while a Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations unit, in collaboration with a Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action marine unit, also responded.  Once on scene, both Coast Guard and the Customs and Border Protection surface units pursued the non-compliant vessel until the CBP crew successfully gained compliance and stopped the suspect vessel.  Following the interdiction, the cutter Paul Clark safely embarked the migrants.  The migrant group was later transferred to the Coast Guard Cutter Donald Horsley for their repatriation to Dominican Republic.

“Despite recent multiple at-sea rescues involving unlawful irregular migration voyages, smugglers are consistently refusing to comply when interdicted, which exponentially endangers the lives of all migrants in these voyages,” said Cmdr. Gerard Wenk, Coast Guard Sector San Juan chief of response.  “We appreciate all our interagency partners for their response that was instrumental in ensuring the safe recovery and repatriation of all the migrants.  For those thinking of taking part in an illegal migrant voyage don’t take to the sea, it could save your life.”

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 Jan. 31, 2024, the Coast Guard has carried out 24 unlawful irregular migration voyage interdictions in the Mona Passage and waters near Puerto Rico. Interdicted during this period, are 780 non-U.S. citizens including 742 Dominicans, and 37 Haitians 01 Venezuelan.

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