41 Dominicans Repatriated to La Romana

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Cushing repatriated 41 Dominican migrants Thursday to La Romana, Dominican Republic following an at-sea interdiction Wednesday.

Ten migrants were identified through the use of biometrics (digital fingerprints and photographs) as having attempted to illegally enter the United States or a U.S. territory.

The crew of a Coast Guard HU-25 Falcon Jet from Air Station Miami, Fla. located the migrant yola at approximately 5:16 p.m. Wednesday during a law enforcement patrol, approximately 23 nautical miles north of Cabo Engaño, Dominican Republic.

Coast Guard controllers diverted Coast Guard Cutter’s Cushing and Mohawk to interdict the 32 men and nine women who were traveling illegally to Puerto Rico aboard a grossly overloaded 20-foot wooden yola.

The Mohawk arrived on scene followed by the Cushing and interdicted the migrants, approximately 32 nautical miles northeast of Cabo Engaño, Dominican Republic. The Cushing safely embarked the migrants who requested to be taken onboard, while a HH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Air Station Borinquen, Aguadilla flew rescue support overhead. The crew of the Cushing destroyed the migrant yola as a hazard to navigation.

The crew of Cushing collected and processed the biometric information of all 41 migrants and repatriated them at approximately 7:30 p.m. Thursday, when custody of the migrants was transferred to Dominican Republic navy authorities in La Romana.

Since its inception in Nov. 2006, U.S. Coast Guard/US-VISIT Biometrics Proof of Concept, biometric data has been collected on 1,482 migrants during 59 at-sea interdictions in the Mona Passage. Thus far, 112 migrants have been brought ashore for filing of charges and prosecution by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Puerto Rico.

The biometric capability employed in this case provides the Coast Guard with an important tool to definitively establish the identity of those interdicted at sea who may attempt to enter or re-enter the United States illegally, or who may pose a threat to national security.

Collecting biometric identification supports the U.S. Government’s efforts to target human smugglers and protect migrants put at risk attempting to enter the United States illegally from the sea.

Coast Guard Cutter Cushing is a 110-foot patrol boat home ported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Coast Guard Cutter Mohawk is a 270-foot Medium Endurance Cutter home ported in Key West, Fla.

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