US Authorities Start Removing Haitians from Grounded Vessel off Puerto Rico

Written by Red Carpet Shelley. Posted in Caribbean News, Red Carpet Shelley Home

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Published on June 25, 2012 with No Comments

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An elaborate operation has been undertaken since late Thursday by federal and state law enforcement authorities, under the Caribbean Border Interagency Group (CBIG), to remove 79 undocumented Haitians and 5 vessel crew members from Mona Island, Puerto Rico.

CBIG authorities confirmed that 84 persons (65 male, 19 female) were on board a Honduran-flagged 185-foot coastal freighter named “Jireh”, which ran aground on Thursday morning just off Uvero Beach in Mona Island.

Park Rangers from the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER) found the group and the vessel on Thursday, notifying federal authorities and prompting the response operation.

On Friday morning, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents assumed custody of 42 undocumented  Haitians who were transported to the Ramey Border Patrol Station, Aguadilla, for immigration processing. Forty-two male undocumented persons remain at the island.

Air and Marine units from CBP, USCG, DNER, Puerto Rico National Guard and the Puerto Rico Police’s Joint Forces for Rapid Action (FURA, for its Spanish acronym) have been transporting additional agents and officers from the respective agencies, as well as provisions and materials to address the needs of the large group.

An Incident Command Post and Unified Command comprised of federal, state and industry agencies and organization has been established at Coast Guard Base San Juan to manage response and salvage efforts of the coastal freighter Jireh. The Unified Command is coordinating response and salvage efforts and conducting a more thorough assessment to determine the condition of the vessel and mitigate any environmental impact caused by the vessel grounding.

Federal law establishes that all foreign flagged vessels that are about to enter a US territory must notify CBP of its intent and request admission at a designated point of entry. Furthermore, US immigration law prohibits entering or attempt to enter without requesting admission at a port of entry by immigration officers.

According to the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC), while smuggling by sea accounts only for a small portion of overall migrant smuggling around the world, the particular dangers of irregular travel at sea make it a priority for response; due to the reported fact that more deaths occur by sea.

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