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Haitian Smuggling Boat Carrying 356 Migrants Runs Aground

A wooden freighter carrying 356 Haitian migrants ran aground 200 yards offshore of Key Largo, Fl., on Sunday, reports the Washington Post. This incident comes after another boat carrying 176 Haitians was stopped by the Coast Guard near the Florida Keys on January 11. In Sunday's incident, 158 migrants swam ashore while the remaining 198 were picked up by the U.S. Coast Guard. Most were young men, one only 14. Border Patrol officials said that there were no serious injuries or fatalities despite the fact that the vessel was overloaded. It is unclear how long the ship was at sea or how it managed to evade detection. CBP officials are trying to determine if the smugglers responsible for the trip were on the boat.

The Haitians who reached the shore were taken to Border Patrol stations for processing and face deportation. The migrants in Coast Guard custody are subject to a process at the Department of Homeland Security to determine whether they will be repatriated to Haiti. Poor living conditions and an unstable political climate occasioned by the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse last July have fueled an uptick in Haitian migration. Many Haitians have also been detained at the southern border, with a peak of 18,000 last September, though officials report that many of those migrants had been living in South America for years before their journey.