Boat carrying over 100 Haitian migrants arrives in Florida

More than 100 Haitian migrants arrived by boat in the US state of Florida early Wednesday and surrendered to border authorities, fleeing a spike in gang violence in the Caribbean country.

US Border Patrol said the boat made landfall around 4 am (2100 GMT) and the migrants were taken into custody.

“US Border Patrol agents with support from federal, state and local law enforcement partners responded to a migrant landing and encountered 118 Haitian migrants,” Samuel Briggs II, the acting chief patrol agent for US Border Patrol Miami Sector, said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

The migrants spent a week at sea until they arrived at Key West, part of the Florida Keys archipelago at the southern tip of the state, local authorities told The Miami Herald.

The boat arrived a day after hundreds of police officers from Kenya deployed in Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince, the first dispatch in an ongoing international effort to help stabilize the spike in violence.

The US Coast Guard has repatriated 294 Haitians since October 2023, according to The Washington Post.

In March, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed an executive order increasing the deployments of police officers and National Guard soldiers in the Keys “in anticipation of a potential influx of illegal immigrants from Haiti.”

The Republican leader has made the fight against illegal immigration one of the hallmarks of his administration in recent years.