The U.S. Coast Guard stopped a boat with Dominican migrants on Wednesday near Puerto Rico, according to a press release.
When crews boarded the boat, they found 11 Dominican migrants.
“Attempting these at-sea migrant voyages are illegal, dangerous and unsafe, putting migrants at serious risk of potentially losing their lives, and we highly discourage these voyages from taking place,” Lt. C. Chaffer, Sector San Juan command duty officer, said in a news release. “Those who are interdicted at sea attempting to illegally immigrate will be repatriated to their country in accordance with existing U.S. immigration policy.”
The Coast Guard Sector San Juan first received a report that Puerto Rico United Forces of Rapid Action had interdicted a 20-foot yola — a small, wooden boat — two miles off the coast of Puerto Rico with the migrants on board.
A crew from the Coast Guard Cutter Resolute transferred four of the migrants to U.S. Customs and Border Protection custody as part of an ongoing investigation, Coast Guard officials said. It was not clear what the investigation was about.
The other seven were repatriated to the Dominican Republic.
The Coast Guard has seen a large increase in Dominican migrants attempting to illegally enter the U.S. by sea. According to the press release, approximately 1,531 Dominican migrants have been interdicted at sea in 2019. Only 829 Dominican migrants were stopped in the entirety of 2018.