More than 100 Haitian migrants arrive in Florida Keys

Migrant says group was at sea for 9 days

TAVERNIER, Fla. – More than 100 Haitian migrants arrived in Tavernier on a sailboat Thursday morning, authorities confirmed.

Local 10 News reporter Janine Stanwood was at the scene as officials from multiple agencies arrived. They gave the migrants water and checked them medically.

According to U.S. Border Patrol, 114 migrants arrived from Haiti; 104 of them were adults and 10 were juveniles.

Witnesses said people started jumping into the water and swimming to shore.

(WPLG)

“It was crazy,” witness Michael Diaz said. “It almost capsized and they all jumped off and started swimming into the land.”

“It’s very terrible. I think it’s a bad sacrifice,” one of the migrants, Jeffrey Francois, told Stanwood.

Francois said they were at sea for nine days and feared they would die twice in rough sea conditions.

(WPLG)

The group later boarded various buses to be processed by U.S. Border Patrol agents.

“Our message is, do not risk your life, do not take to the sea,” Acting Division Chief Adam Hoffner, of U.S. Border Patrol, said. “One hundred and fourteen onboard one of these boats -- extremely dangerous, and the migrants were fortunate to make it here because it was so dangerous on this boat.”

Local 10 News recently has had exclusive access to U.S. Border Patrol and U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations to see the work of agents over the last year.

“It’s the busiest I’ve ever seen it,” U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Commander Ryan Lloyd told Local 10 News last month. “And I’ve been here off and on for the past decade.”

Additional federal and state law enforcement resources have been added to the Florida Keys to respond to migrant landings.

Since October, the U.S. Coast Guard has stopped about 5,100 migrants at sea trying to enter the U.S, already outpacing last year.


About the Authors:

Janine Stanwood joined Local 10 News in February 2004 as an assignment editor. She is now a general assignment reporter. Before moving to South Florida from her Washington home, Janine was the senior legislative correspondent for a United States senator on Capitol Hill.

Amanda Batchelor is the Digital Executive Producer for Local10.com.