Caribbean: Four Dominican Republic nationals have been detained by the United States Border Patrol agents for transporting 43 Haitian migrants into Mona Island, Puerto Rico.
The information was provided by the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency. All four of them have appeared before the US District Court.
The four have been identified as – Carlos Javier Lopez, Josue Elias Robles, Jonathan Garcia and Mauricio Sosa Belen. CBP further noted that the defendants could face up to 20 years in imprisonment, a fine of up to US$250,000, or both.
Afterwards, the US Border Patrol issued a warning regarding the danger of crossing the Mona Passage and leaving migrants on the inhospitable Mona Island. Chief Patrol Agent at the Ramey Sector – Xavier Morales cited that, “We would continue to pursue criminal prosecution for anyone smuggling the non-citizens into the United States.”
“Bringing non-citizens into – Mona Island is a serious crime and puts lives at risk. We will bring the smugglers to justice. By narrowing immigration channels, more people ask the assistance of smugglers, who have endangered the lives & integrity of the migrants in their increasingly risky efforts to bypass border controls,” the chief patrol agent further added.
Javier Lopez, Elias Robles, Garcia and Belen have appeared before US Magistrate Judges Marcos E. Lopez & Marshal D. Morgan for their initial hearings, CBP noted, adding that they all have been charged for violating Title 8, – United States Code, Section 1324, for – “bringing in and harbouring migrants”.
The group of immigrants have been transported to the Mayaguez Port, where the Border Patrol took custody of the group for processing by a Coast Guard cutter.
According to mid-2017 estimates by the ‘United Nations’ Population Division, United States is the top destination for the Caribbean emigrants outside of the region, followed by Canada – (405,000), Spain – (294,000), and the United Kingdom – (232,000).