Coast Guard repatriates 34 migrants to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic > United States Coast Guard News > Press Releases

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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Napier’s crew repatriated 34 migrants to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic Monday, following the interdiction of an overloaded makeshift vessel in Mona Passage waters off the western coast of Puerto Rico. 

Coast Guard watchstanders in Sector San Juan received a Rescue-21 marine radio communication on Channel 16 from the M/V Star Spirit, Sunday morning.  The Star Spirit crew reported being on scene with a makeshift vessel and the passengers onboard waving their hands for assistance.   Coast Guard watchstanders directed the launch of a Coast Guard MH-60T Jayhawk helicopter from Air Station Borinquen and diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Napier to interdict the vessel and render rescue assistance. Once on scene, the cutter Joseph Napier crew launched the cutter’s Over the Horizon boat in which the boat crew faced eight-foot seas, and occasional 12-foot swells, while embarking the migrants.  Thirty-four of the repatriated migrants claimed to be Dominican Republic nationals, 26 men, seven women, while one woman claimed to be Haitian.   

“Sunday’s interdiction highlights the dangers of attempting to unlawfully migrate at sea,” said Lt. Matthew Carmine, Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Napier commanding officer. “I am very proud of our coxswain and boat crew for their expert on scene coordination, allowing Napier’s crew to safely embark all the people from this voyage in the treacherous sea conditions.”

The Coast Guard, along with its Homeland Security Task Force – Southeast partners, maintains a continual presence with air, land, and sea assets in the Florida Straits, the Windward Passage, the Mona Passage and the Caribbean Sea. The HSTF-SE combined, multi-layered approach is designed to protect the safety of life at sea while preventing unlawful maritime entry to the United States and its territories. 

Migrants who are interdicted at sea or apprehended ashore will not be allowed to stay in the United States or a U.S. territory. Furthermore, anyone who arrives unlawfully may be declared ineligible for legal immigration parole options and be repatriated to their country of origin or returned to the country from where the voyage departed from.

Since Oct. 1, 2023, through Oct. 31, 2023, the Coast Guard has carried out nine unlawful irregular migration voyage interdictions in the Mona Passage and waters near Puerto Rico. Interdicted during this period, are 206 non-U.S. citizens including 201 Dominicans, and five Haitians.

Since Oct. 1, 2022, through Sep. 30, 2023, the Coast Guard has carried out 67 unlawful irregular maritime migration voyage interdictions in the Mona Passage and waters near Puerto Rico. Interdicted during this period, are 2,161 non-U.S. citizens including 1,871 Dominicans, 264 Haitians, 15 Venezuelans, 07 Kazakhs, 01 Albanian, 02 Colombians and 01 unknown nationality. 

Cutter Joseph Napier is a 154-foot Sentinel class fast response cutter homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico. 

U.S. residents inquiring about family members potentially interdicted at sea by the Coast Guard, please contact the office of your local federal U.S. representative or Senator. Relatives located outside the United States, please contact family members who are U.S. residents to follow the same process on your behalf. 

Make a difference on land, at sea or in the air with the Coast Guard.  Visit www.gocoastguard.com to find out how to be part of a team.  

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