Coast Guard Repatriates 31 Dominicans, Detains 3

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Cushing repatriated 31 Dominican migrants yesterday to La Romana, Dominican Republic, following an at-sea interdiction by Puerto Rico and U.S. federal authorities Wednesday.

Three migrants were identified through the use of biometrics(digital fingerprints and photographs) as having a history of illegal immigration in the United States or a U.S. territory. Coast Guard law enforcement personnel detained two of the migrants who were attempting to illegally re-enter U.S. territory after having been previously deported and formally removed from U.S. territory. The third migrant was detained for attempting to enter illegally into U.S. territory for the third time.

The crew of the Cushing transferred custody of the detained migrants to U.S. Border Patrol agents in Mayaguez yesterday, for further processing in anticipation of filing of charges by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Puerto Rico.

The crew of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection C-12 aircraft initially located the migrant yola traveling illegally to Puerto Rico at 9 p.m. Wednesday, approximately five nautical miles west of Boqueron, Puerto Rico.

Coast Guard controllers immediately diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Cushing to intercept the migrant yola. Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action and U.S. Cutoms and Border Protection marine units also responded to the scene and interdicted the the 20-foot-blue grossly overloaded yola at 9:35 p.m. Wednesday, approximately four nautical miles west of Boqueron. Cutter Cushing arrived on scene and the crew safely embarked the migrants.

After transferring custody of the three detained migrants to Border Patrol agents, cutter Cushing got underway to La Romana, Dominican Republic to repatriate the 31 migrants who remained onboard. The repatriation was completed at approximately 11:50 p.m. yesterday when custody of the migrants was transferred to Dominican Republic authorities in La Romana.

Since its inception in Nov. 2006, U.S. Coast Guard/U.S. Visit Biometrics Proof of Concept, biometric data has been collected on 709 migrants during 31 at-sea interdictions in the Mona Passage. Thus far, 31 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 homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

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