Customs and Border Protection officials in Puerto Rico apprehended more then 46 migrants attempting to make it to the U.S. by sea in two separate incidents earlier this week.
CBP Air and Marine Operations (AMO) apprehended 35 illegal immigrants from the Dominican Republican and Haiti attempting to make it to Puerto Rice on two “makeshift” boats.
“Air and Marine Operations agents remain vigilant for illegal smuggling operations throughout the region and work tirelessly with our partners to protect our borders,” Johnny Morales, the Director of Air Operations for the Caribbean Air and Marine Branch, said in a statement.
According to CBP, Monday night CBP first detected a 21-food wooden boat holding 9 illegal immigrants followed by a 25-foot fiberglass boat carrying 26 illegal immigrants. Seven of the apprehended passengers claimed to be Haitian the remaining 28 passengers said they were from the Dominican Republic.
A day later, CBP officials in Puerto Rico apprehended 11 more migrants, this time from Cuba, who had landed on Mona Island earlier in the day.
“CBP continues to promote safe, legal and orderly migration from Cuba under our Migration Accords and deter dangerous and illegal migration from Cuba,” Ramiro Cerrillo, Ramey Sector Chief Patrol Agent, said in a statement.
So far this fiscal year, the Ramey Border Patrol Sector has apprehended 162 Cuban migrants.
Unlike other migrants, Cubans receive special treatment once in the U.S. due to the Cuban Adjustment Act, which allows for an expedited path to legal permanent residency once on U.S. soil.
In the wake of the Obama administration’s move to normalize relations with Cuba, migration from the island nation has dramatically increased due to fears that the special protections granted to Cubans will end.
“The Administration has no plans to change the current immigration policy toward Cuba or seek legislative changes in relation to the Cuban Adjustment Act,” a CBP release noted, reiterating the administration’s current stance.