SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico ( Associated Press) — The United States Coast Guard detained a boat with 396 Haitian migrants on board 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 Sal, located between Florida and Cuba.
He indicated that the migrants would be processed on the Bahamian island of Inagua and later repatriated.
US Coast Guard spokeswoman Nicole Groll said they were stopped Saturday afternoon and found a 50-foot boat that was “overloaded and unsafe.”
No further details were available at this time.
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.