Skip to comments.More migrants being halted off U.S. coast
Posted on 12/01/2003 9:46:35 AM PST by NCjim
The rickety 60-foot sailing boat, overloaded with dozens of undocumented migrants, was spotted in mid-November near one of the southernmost islands in the Bahamas.
Gallatin, a Coast Guard cutter based in Charleston, S.C., was dispatched to intercept the vessel. It succeeded 40 miles northwest of Great Inagua, just north of Cuba, and the 204 people aboard -- 203 Haitians and one Cuban -- were repatriated.
The interdiction of the vessel, likely bound for South Florida, illustrates a growing trend: Interceptions are becoming more frequent, and arrivals of large migrant-laden boats more infrequent on local shores -- which federal officials link to more efficient detection techniques under the new Department of Homeland Security.
Figures recently released by the U.S. Coast Guard show a sharp jump in the number of migrant interdictions along U.S. shores and in waters traditionally used by migrant boats, including the Florida Straits and the Windward Passage between Cuba and Haiti.
Officials say their agencies are coordinating efforts better now that they're all under Homeland Security. Interception figures also show that more people are leaving their homelands -- despite the U.S. policy of detaining most migrants who arrive by sea to deter voyages by others.
In fiscal year 2003, which ended Sept. 30, 6,068 migrants were prevented from reaching shore -- the largest number of interdictions in seven years. Calendar year figures also show an increase: 5,142 interdictions in 2002 compared to 4,136 in 2001. So far this year, 4,720 migrants have been stopped.
HAITIANS AT TOP
In the fiscal year figures, the largest number of migrants stopped was Haitians -- 2,013 in 2003 compared to 1,486 in 2002 -- followed by Dominicans with 1,748 stopped in 2003 versus 177 in 2002, and Cubans -- 1,555 in 2003 and 666 in 2002.
''You have an increase in successful interdictions because of the increased interagency cooperation and the ability to share resources and capabilities,'' said Lt. Tony Russell, public affairs officer for the Seventh Coast Guard District in Miami.
Russell and other U.S. officials said improved coordination stems from the merger of several agencies into the new Department of Homeland Security. On March 1, Customs, the Coast Guard and immigration, among other agencies, folded into Homeland Security.
Before the takeover, those agencies reported to different departments: Coast Guard to Transportation, Customs to Treasury and immigration to Justice.
The merger came in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks after federal officials concluded that hijackers went undetected largely because of lack of coordination and sharing of information among government agencies.
Coordination and information sharing among border and coastal security agencies did exist before Homeland Security, but it was limited and circuitous.
Said Russell: ``A year ago, in a migrant interdiction, for example, you might have a boat spotted by a Customs aircraft, which would have been Department of the Treasury, and then that information was relayed to the Coast Guard, which was Department of Transportation.
``They would share the information with the Border Patrol, which was Department of Justice, and you'd end up with three separate departments to try to stop one boat. Now you have an Immigration and Customs Enforcement aircraft spotting the vessel and passing the information to the Coast Guard, and both are Department of Homeland Security.''
Border Patrol officials in Miami confirm that more interdictions have meant fewer arrivals of undocumented migrants. In fiscal year 2003, 1,267 undocumented migrants reached South Florida -- 242 less than in fiscal year 2002, according to the Border Patrol.
''We have, in fact, noticed fewer arrivals over the last year and we're certain that the largest reason for that is because of shared intelligence and improved communication between all of the Homeland Security agency components,'' said Keith Roberts, assistant chief Customs and Border Protection-U.S. Border Patrol for Miami. ``We've gotten to the point where we're sharing real-time communications -- telephonic and electronic and cooperative or joint field tactics.''
Despite the improved coordination, officials say small numbers of migrants still manage to avoid detection, especially those who are smuggled in.
A year ago, Roberts said, smugglers brought larger numbers of illegal migrants aboard unsafe boats. Now they are using faster vessels and bringing smaller groups.
The evidence is in the statistics: Ten more vessels carrying illegal migrants reached South Florida in fiscal year 2003 -- 110 compared to the 100 in 2002. But they brought fewer migrants: 1,267 versus 1,509, Roberts said.
Some immigration advocates linked improved effectiveness to the breakup of the former Immigration and Naturalization Service into service and enforcement components as a result of the Homeland Security takeover.
''Splitting INS is allowing the enforcement side to act on its own intelligence,'' said Michael Bander, a veteran Miami immigration attorney. ``They are more effective because of the division of responsibilities.''
However, Cheryl Little, executive director of Miami-based Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center, said it also shows the failure of a controversial federal policy of trying to discourage illegal migration by indefinitely detaining migrants who arrive by sea -- except Cubans, who are permitted by law to stay if they reach land.
''The figures show that detention as a deterrent doesn't work,'' she said.
Of course, it would help a lot if our government would make the tough decisions and make it less economically attractive to come illegally. Ending welfare and educational benefits to illegals and enforcing existing work laws would be a good start.
" WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
DIVERSITY IS STRENGTH"
And finding a brave politician to even mention this would be a miracle.
I wonder why 2013 Haitians get stopped but 20,000,000 Mexicans don't get stopped? Maybe it's racism that unlimited numbers can enter from Mexico but Haitians are blocked? Maybe the Haitians should cry "racism" and demand reparations.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.