Close to 400 Haitian migrants were detained by the U.S. Coast Guard on Sunday near an island in the Bahamas in what officials are calling one of the biggest recent attempts at human smuggling in the region.

The migrants, numbering 396, were found by the U.S. Coast Guard on a Saturday afternoon riding a 50-foot boat that was described as “grossly overloaded and very much unsafe” by Coast Guard spokesperson Nicole Groll, who has declined to share more details about the incident, according to the Associated Press.

These migrants are now currently detained at the Cay Sal island between Florida and Cuba, and will be processed at the Bahamian island of Inagua before being returned to Haiti where they reportedly came from, ABC News reported.

Haiti has been experiencing extreme political and social turmoil since the assassination of its President, Jovenel Moïse, in 2021. The country has been plagued with a lot of gang violence in its capital as well as an outbreak of cholera that has been spreading uninhibited through the population, NPR reported.

That turmoil has also led to economic instability, as the prices of food and other basic necessities continue increasing uncontrollably in the country. The United Nations has been attempting to help the country through humanitarian aid, and have put out calls in the past for countries like the United States and Canada to intervene.

Many, in an attempt to escape the social and economic turmoil, are braving the seas to travel to the Bahamas or other nearby islands in an attempt to enter the U.S. through Florida. Most of them use makeshift vessels that have been known to capsize in the fervor of the sea.

This has led to a migrant crisis in the U.S. and Mexico as refugees from Haiti and other countries like Venezuela and Cuba arrive at the U.S. border seeking asylum and entry into the country.

U.S. President Joe Biden has started allowing border authorities to turn away migrants at the border of the country but also began a program that would allow 30,000 migrants from Cuba, Venezuela, Haiti, and Nicaragua into the country if they can get a financial sponsor and apply through legal means.

Haitian Migrants Detained Rep. Pic
Close to 400 Haitian migrants have been detained by the U.S. Coast Guard after they were found attempting to enter the United States through a "very much unsafe" and overloaded boat. This is a representational image. Sujeeth Potla/Unsplash.

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