(NEW YORK) — At least 356 Haitian migrants traveled by boat on a dangerous trek to the coast of the Ocean Reef community in Key Largo, Florida, on March 6, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
CBP took custody of 158 people who swam to the shore from the vessel, according to Alan Regalado, the public affairs specialist for CBP in Florida. The 198 people who stayed on the boat were stopped and transferred to U.S. Coast Guard boats.
“It’s [a] really, really dangerous [trek], especially because of the conditions — I mean, over 300 people in one vessel? I mean, they’re just not equipped for that trip,” Regalado told ABC News.
He added, “Not only that, but the smuggling organizations and everything that migrants have to go through in the process — it’s just not a safe thing to do.”
CBP, the U.S. Coast Guard, and other local and state agencies responded to the incoming vessel.
“Multiple agencies responded quickly & worked closely to protect a lot of lives today,” said Lt. Cmdr. Jason Neiman, with Coast Guard District Seven, in a tweet.
According to CBP, the processing of such migrants who made it onto U.S. soil after their voyage depends on their claims and background.
However, those 158 migrants may be subject to Title 42, which is a clause of the 1944 Public Health Services law that allows the government to expel migrants without giving them a chance to apply for asylum during a public health emergency.
Many Haitian refugees have left their countries due to the devastating impacts of natural disasters and political instability that have also resulted in economic struggles for the country.
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