Deaths don’t deter Dominican boatpeople; the US issues warning
Santo Domingo. – The United States on Monday warned of the risk posed by the Mona Passage for boatpeople who try to reach Puerto Rico illegally, just one week after a makeshift craft sank with more than 70 people on board, with only 13 survivors and 56 bodies recovered so far, and hours after the US Coast Guard intercepted a group of 31 near its territory.
The Customs and Border Protection Service (CBP) warned that illegal crossings by migrants lead to the highest number of deaths worldwide. “The trip’s dangers are summarized in three potential outcomes: the victimization of undocumented people by organizations of smugglers, the inconvenience of criminal prosecution and the loss life at sea.”
“The people who venture to cross the 60 nautical miles (111 kilometers) between Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic, boarding a rustic and inadequate boat, place not only their life in danger, but the lives of public safety officers with the rescue mission,” the CBP said.
It also warned that the danger isn’t jut the fragility of the boats known as yolas but also the risk of falling victim to criminal organizations that traffic with people.
Of the 31 migrants intercepted Thursday 13 nautical miles near Puerto Rico’s southwest coast of Cabo Rojo, 30 are Dominican and one Haitian.
The US Coast Guard repatriated 22 the undocumented people this weekend while the CBP filed charges against nine undocumented travelers as repeat offenders.