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U.S. Border Patrol Intercepts 118 Haitian Migrants in Boat near Florida Coast

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U.S. Border Patrol intercepted 118 Haitian migrants aboard a boat near Key West, Florida, early Wednesday morning amid a humanitarian crisis in Port-au-Prince. Violent gangs have seized control of the Haitian capital, leading to widespread starvation and prompting desperate attempts to flee.

Coast Guard officials confirmed the interception, stating that the migrants were found around 4 a.m. local time and were immediately subjected to medical examinations, interviews, and processing by Border Patrol agents.

The crisis in Haiti has been exacerbated by political instability. In March, Prime Minister Ariel Henry agreed to resign after failing to organize elections amidst logistical challenges and violent protests. The formation of a transitional government, overseen partly by outsiders, has brought little respite as Haiti struggles to establish stable leadership.

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"The political unrest and rampant violence in Haiti have created conditions for another mass migration surge impacting South Florida," said Rep. Carlos Gimenez (R-Fla.), expressing concern over the security risks posed by increased migration due to gang violence and prison releases.

To manage the situation, Governor Ron DeSantis deployed additional law enforcement personnel to patrol Florida's waters, aiming to prevent further waves of Haitian migrants. The Monroe County Sheriff's Office shared images showing migrants seated by the roadside upon arrival, their medical conditions initially unclear.

Samuel Briggs II, acting chief patrol agent in Miami, confirmed that the migrants were cleared medically and transferred to Border Patrol stations for further processing and interviews.

The Florida Immigrant Coalition urged state and federal authorities to ensure humane treatment and support for the migrants, highlighting their perilous journey and the worsening conditions in Haiti. They cited increased crime against women and girls, heightened food insecurity, and escalating health concerns as drivers forcing Haitians to seek safety abroad.

June 27, 2024 4:47 p.m. 399

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