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Press Release | April 29, 2024

Coast Guard repatriates 119 migrants to Dominican Republic following 2 interdictions near Puerto Rico

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Doyle repatriated 119 migrants to Dominican Republic, Friday, following two interdictions of unlawful, irregular migration attempts near Puerto Rico. 

The repatriated migrants were transferred to Dominican Republic Navy authorities at San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic. 

The second interdiction occurred Thursday, after the aircrew of a Customs and Border Protection multi-role enforcement aircraft sighted a 30-foot makeshift vessel taking part in an unlawful maritime migration voyage, approximately 30 nautical miles northwest of Desecheo Island, Puerto Rico. A responding Customs and Border Protection marine unit interdicted the suspect vessel while the Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Doyle arrived on-scene.  Once on scene, the cutter crew embarked 66 migrants, 63 who claimed to be Dominican Republic nationals and three who claimed to be Haitian nationals. 

The first interdiction occurred Wednesday, when a Customs and Border Protection Marine unit stopped a 30-foot makeshift vessel taking part in an unlawful maritime migration voyage, approximately four nautical miles north of Desecheo Island, Puerto Rico.  Coast Guard watchstanders diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Doyle that arrived on scene and embarked 58 migrants, 56 who claimed to be Dominican Republic nationals and two who claimed to be Haitian nationals.

“These interdictions are the result of the unwavering commitment, collaboration and partnerships the Coast Guard relies upon daily with our U.S. federal and Dominican Republic Navy partners to stop and deter unlawful maritime migration voyages in the Mona Passage,” said Lt. Cmdr. Edward Kunigonis, Coast Guard Sector San Juan chief of enforcement. “We urge migrants to not take to the sea, their lives will be at risk as these voyages are mostly unseaworthy and unstable vessels that continuously take on water and could capsize without notice.”

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 October 1, 2023, through March 31, 2024, the Coast Guard has carried out 28 unlawful irregular migration voyage interdictions in the Mona Passage and waters near Puerto Rico. Interdicted during this period, are 932 non-U.S. citizens including 890 Dominicans, and 41 Haitians and one Venezuelan. 

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