Sailboat (left) detained carrying Haitian migrants (right) to Florida
Sailboat (left) detained carrying Haitian migrants (right) to Florida Photos by Monroe County Sheriff's Office

Border Patrol agents intercepted over 100 undocumented Haitian immigrants off the coast of Key West, Florida. The U.S. Coast Guard reported that the 118 migrants were found on a boat in Florida waters around 4 a.m., where they were subsequently subjected to medical examinations, interviews, and processing.

The detention occurs as a humanitarian crisis grips Haiti's capital Port-au-Prince, where violent gangs have taken over the streets, forcing residents to starve and flee.

According to The Miami Herald, the boat landed about 100 yards off the 1800 Atlantic condominiums near Higgs Beach with about 117 people — 87 males and 30 females, including some children.

Local emergency medical services were on-site to evaluate the migrants' conditions and the migrants, who had been at sea for seven days, are now under the custody of Border Patrol. They will be transported to Border Patrol facilities in Marathon, in the Florida Keys, and Dania Beach, in Broward County, north of Miami.

The Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC), an organization advocating for immigrant rights, called for humane treatment of the migrants, emphasizing the perilous journey they endured in search of safety. Yarelis Mendez-Zamora, Federal Campaign Lead of the organization stated to The Miami Herald that "we must focus on providing immediate assistance and ensuring the safety and well-being of those arriving on our shores," adding that these are people fleeing unimaginable violence and deprivation and they need our help, not further displacement."

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed three bills in March aimed at combating illegal immigration and reiterated his plan to strengthen the border to prevent an expected influx of Haitian migrants.

DeSantis deployed over 250 state personnel to the southern part of the state and the Florida Keys. Since January 2023, state forces have collaborated with the Coast Guard to intercept 670 boats carrying 13,500 "illegal immigrants."

Civil organizations in South Florida, home to the largest Haitian community in the U.S., criticized DeSantis' measures, calling for a compassionate response rather than militarization of the border.

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