Puerto Rico sees increase in migrants in recent months
Puerto Rico has recently seen a rise in migrants trying to reach the US territory. Migrants from countries such as Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba, are seeking a better life in Puerto Rico. The uptick in migrants has caused several incidents in Puerto Rico in the past few months.
The US territory has seen an increase in migrants as a result of the lack of stability and security in the Caribbean, and mostly, Haiti. Many of these migrants have been or are being detained. The Coast Guard’s website has said that when they intercept migrants in the sea, they can be returned to their country of origin, without the consequences of illegally entering either the United States or a US territory.
In early May, eleven migrants died from drowning, while trying to reach the shore of Puerto Rico. The US Coast Guard reported 38 migrants who survived; 8 of those survivors were hospitalized. The migrants were mostly from Haiti, with two being from the Dominican Republic. The boat capsized a few miles off the coast of Desecheo, a National Wildlife Refuge on the North East coast of Puerto Rico.
Additionally, earlier this month, US and Dominican ships rescued a reported 70 individuals on small, unstable boats in a Puerto Rican strait. The Mona passage—a strait that intertwines Puerto Rico and Hispaniola island—has been the frontline of migrants attempting to enter the US territory.
While illegal crossings by dangerous boats, often referred to as “yolas”, are becoming increasingly common in Puerto Rico, it is rare for migrants to safely cross the treacherous waters. Smugglers are known to pack dozens of migrants into these small boats and attempt to navigate the passage. Due to the size of the boats, it is often challenging for the US Coast Guard to spot the vessels.