haitian refugees
Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection, partner agencies crews respond to a suspected Haitian migrant venture, March 6, 2022, approximately 200 yards off Ocean Reef, Florida. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

NEW YORK – Immigration authorities say they plan to return 356 refugees to Haiti, after their boat ran aground off the coast of Key Largo, Florida over the weekend. 

Law enforcement rescued 158 of the refugees from the water on March 6 after they attempted to swim ashore. Currently in Border Patrol custody, they will be interviewed and processed for removal proceedings, according to United States Customs and Border Protection. Another 198 refugees are on a Coast Guard vessel and are pending repatriation to Haiti.

“We are fortunate to report that there were no serious injuries or fatalities associated with this smuggling venture,” said Walter N. Slosar, a chief patrol agent with the U.S. Border Patrol in the news release. “The criminal organizations that overload these vessels sacrifice the safety of the migrants for the sake of profits.”

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Sam is a reporter for The Haitian Times and a 2020 Report for America corps member. He has covered Haiti and its diaspora since 2018. His work has also appeared in USA Today, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and Haiti Liberte. Sam can be reached at sam@haitiantimes.com or on Twitter @sambojarski.