We report all the time about the Mediterranean boat people trying to reach Europe from Africa (many dying in the process), or the many boats full of mostly Muslim migrants trying to reach Australia, but this is the first time I’ve become aware of Haitians in large numbers employing people smugglers to get to the US.
The US Coast Guard has prepared a Public Service Announcement in hopes of halting the practice.
From NBC News (hat tip: pungentpeppers):
MIAMI – Following dozens of known drowning deaths at sea this year, the U.S. Coast Guard and Haitian-American community activists unveiled a public service campaign Thursday urging Haitians to avoid immigrant smugglers. They’re also asking Haitian family members in the United States to refrain from financing the smuggling operations, because they are so dangerous.
“Do not go to the sea. Do not put yours lives in the hands of these ruthless smugglers,” said Captain Mark Fedor, Chief of Law Enforcement for the Seventh Coast Guard District in Miami.
In the last year, U.S. officials have seen a dramatic rise in the number of Haitians being smuggled in small, often-overcrowded boats across the 80-mile-wide Mona Passage to Puerto Rico, a U.S. commonwealth.
So far this year, the Coast Guard and other law enforcement officials have apprehended 2,265 Haitians crossing the Mona Passage. That compares to just 188 Haitians caught there in the previous eight years.
It is not clear what is done with those “rescued.” Are they returned to Haiti? Or do they get taken care of under a program called the Cuban Haitian Entrant Program where at least 20,000 Cubans and Haitians become eligible for taxpayer support every year in a program pretty much run by federal contractors—the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and Church World Service—but paid for by you.
We haven’t written much about Haiti lately, but I see we have 52 previous posts on the subject, largely related to the temporary protected status they have available to them.
Photo is from this story. By the way, what happened to all the celebrities who were rushing to Haiti after the Earthquake to bring them aid? Did they get bored and go home? Move on to the next humanitarian photo-op?