SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The United States Coast Guard detained a boat with 396 Haitian migrants near the Bahamas in one of the largest human trafficking incidents in the region, Bahamian officials said.
Bahamian immigration officials said in a statement on Sunday that the migrants were detained near the remote island of Salt Cay, located between Florida and Cuba.
He indicated that the migrants would be processed on the Bahamian island of Inagua and later repatriated.
No further details were available at this time. A US Coast Guard spokeswoman said she had no information about the incident.
Thousands of Haitians are fleeing increased gang violence and deepening political instability in a country that currently has no democratically elected institutions.
Many travel to the Bahamas and other nearby islands in hopes of eventually reaching Florida. The journeys are often fatal, with migrants crammed into makeshift boats that have capsized in recent months.
The exodus comes as US President Joe Biden’s administration recently announced it would begin cracking down on illegal entry of Cuban, Haitian, Nicaraguan and Venezuelan immigrants at the Texas border. Washington now offers a humanitarian visa to 30,000 people from those countries if they obtain a financial sponsor, apply online and pay for their plane ticket.