Little is known about the 40 people board a boat that capsized and was found this week near Florida’s coast with just one survivor. They were on a route often traveled by migrants trying to enter the U.S. clandestinely. Authorities suspect the trip was organized by smugglers. Apprehensions of migrants in the Florida-Caribbean region appear to be surpassing numbers from last year, with more Cubans and Haitians going to sea despite the dangers and stricter U.S. refugee policies, the Associated Press reports. The survivor said the boat capsized late Saturday after he and 39 others had set out for Florida from Bimini, a chain of islands in the Bahamas about 55 miles east of Miami.
The Bahamas is a steppingstone to reach the U.S. Most of the migrants are from Haiti and Cuba. Refugee aid groups say some migrants opt for the longer route to avoid the increasing law enforcement along the Florida Straits. Authorities last Friday rescued 31 migrants who were on another overcrowded boat that also capsized. Those migrants had also departed from Bimini. The Bahamas and nearby Turks and Caicos Islands have stepped up anti-smuggling enforcement efforts in cooperation with the Coast Guard in recent years. From Oct. 1, 2020, to Sept. 30 of last year, the Coast Guard says that in the region that includes Florida and the Caribbean, its crews apprehended 838 Cubans; 1,527 Haitians; and 742 Dominicans. In less than four months since last October, crews have apprehended 686 Cubans; 802 Haitians and 685 Dominicans.