More illegal Haitians breach Bahamian borders

Pictured are some of the 200 illegal migrants who were deported to Haiti Tuesday via a Bahamasair Jet.

Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) officers captured nearly 300 illegal Haitian migrants in three separate incidents waters surrounding Inagua over the weekend, officers said.

RBDF reported that the first incident, which occurred on Friday, saw the capture of nearly 100 migrants shortly before 8:00 p.m. on a sloop just over 20 miles south east of Great Inagua.

The sloop, the defence force said, was spotted by an Operation Bahamas Turks and Caicos (OPBAT) helicopter patrolling the southern Bahamas.

The second group of migrants, officers said, were also sighted by an OPBAT helicopter east of Inagua Saturday afternoon. Nearly 100 migrants were estimated to be on board that sloop. The United States Coast Guard was said to have assisted with the apprehension of that vessel.

In the latest incident, which is said to have taken place shortly after 8:00 p.m. on Sunday, defence force officers arrested 70 illegal migrants, moments after they landed on Lantern Head Point, near the southeast cost of Great Inagua.

Defence force medics were said to have assessed the group before they were handed over to immigration officials.

The other migrants are expected to be brought to the capital for processing.

On Sunday at the RBDF annual church service, National Security Minister Marvin Dames, implored the RBDF to increase patrols in the southern Bahamas.

He also announced that the government is working on expanding and establishing bases in Inagua and Ragged Island, to sustain long-term air and sea operations in this region. These bases, Dames said, will be located at strategic check points for anti-poaching, migrant and drug smuggling operations.

The latest apprehensions mark the fourth group of migrants to be caught in Bahamian waters this year. In January, a defence force aircraft observed a Haitian vessel in the vicinity of Long Island.

A total of 69 were apprehended.

Last year, the defence force apprehended or assisted in apprehending some 1,300 migrants.

According to Head of the Department of Immigration Enforcement Unit Kirklyn Neely, the department deported nearly 7,000 people in 2017.

The immigration department intensified its apprehension efforts last November after a large empty sloop was discovered on the shoreline of Adelaide Beach.