The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of State announced sweeping new measures to further reduce irregular migration, including irregular maritime migration, and to significantly expand lawful pathways to facilitate the safe, orderly and humane processing of migrants. The measures announced draw on the success of recent processes that have significantly reduced unlawful migration through a combination of expanded lawful pathways and swift returns and removal of those who fail to use those lawful pathways.
The announcement made clear that the United States, in coordination with our regional partners, have dramatically scaled up the number of removal flights per week. That includes flights to Cuba, which resumed this week following a pause due to COVID-19. The number of weekly flights will double or triple for some countries. With this increase in removal flights, migrants who cross the U.S. border without documents sufficient for lawful admission, which includes migrants who attempt to make landfall by sea, and who fail to qualify for relief or protection should expect to be swiftly returned.
DHS also made Cubans and Haitians who attempt to migrate irregularly to the U.S. via maritime means after April 27, 2023, ineligible for the parole processes announced in January, including those interdicted at sea.
“This announcement provides important clarity for at-sea interdictions. Anyone interdicted at sea while trying to enter the United States irregularly will be ineligible for the Cuban and Haitian parole processes announced in January,” said Rear Adm. Brendan C. McPherson, director of HSTF-SE and commander of U.S. Coast Guard Seventh District. “Taking to the sea in unsafe and unseaworthy vessels is inherently dangerous and is often deadly. Our Task Force will continue to rescue and repatriate, in accordance with governing policies and guidance, anyone attempting to enter the U.S. irregularly through maritime routes. We encourage everyone planning to come to the U.S. to do so through safe and lawful pathways.”
Since August 21, 2022, HSTF-SE partners have repatriated more than 11,747 migrants. Migrants rescued at sea or interdicted ashore are provided food, water, shelter, basic medical attention, and are processed to determine if they have a legal basis to enter or remain in the U.S.
The sustained surge of DHS personnel, interagency coordination and surge of air and sea assets to save lives and prevent unlawful entry into the United States is the largest federally-led response to irregular maritime migration in the region since 2010.
HSTF-SE serves as the DHS lead for operational and tactical planning, command and control, and as a standing organization to deter, mitigate and respond to maritime mass migration in the Caribbean Sea and the Straits of Florida. HSTF-SE is the supported DHS entity for Caribbean maritime migration operations, and HSTF-SE partners include federal, state and local agencies. HSTF-SE continues enhanced enforcement efforts in support of Operation Vigilant Sentry (OVS), the 2004 DHS plan to respond to irregular maritime migration in the Caribbean Sea and the Straits of Florida. The Task Force provides the organizational framework to plan for and execute a scalable operational plan under OVS, detect maritime migration indicators, monitor maritime migration trends, and conduct joint training, exercises and planning. The following federal, state and local law enforcement and emergency management components work together as part of the task force: DHS, USCG, USBP, CBP-AMO, CBP-OFO, HSI, ICE-ERO, USCIS, FEMA, HHS, FDEM, FDLE, Miami-Dade County and Monroe County.