U.S. maritime borders remain firmly closed

Written by Nick Blenkey
maritime border enforcement scene showing USCG cutter stopping overloaded boat

USCG Photo

The termination of the Title 42 public health order does not alter U.S. maritime migration policies, and U.S. maritime borders remain closed. That was the message from the U.S. Coast Guard as U.S. southern border states braced for a surge of migrants following the ending of a pandemic-era policy that had permitted the swift removal of migrants.

Title 42 never applied to migrants interdicted at sea, says the Coast Guard. Homeland Security Task Force-South East (HSTF-SE) is monitoring the situation to ensure misinformation among diaspora communities or disinformation spread by human smugglers does not encourage increased attempts to reach the United States by sea.

Illegal migration by sea continues to claim lives worldwide and the Coast Guard is emphasizing its dangers,

“U.S. Coast Guard and Task Force partners will continue to rescue and repatriate migrants attempting to enter the United States irregularly by sea. We encourage anyone planning to come to the United States to do so through safe and lawful pathways,” said Rear Adm. Brendan C. McPherson, director of HSTF-SE and commander of the Seventh Coast Guard District. “Do not take to the sea. As I’ve often said, irregular maritime migration is always dangerous and very often deadly. Migrants who are interdicted at sea will be immediately repatriated in accordance with policies and plans governing maritime migration in the Florida Straits and the Caribbean Sea. Migrants who reach our shores in the United States will be subject to expedited removal, and those who do not qualify for protection will be expeditiously removed with at least a five-year bar on returning to the United States.”

According to Coast Guard Seventh District, HSTF-SE is implementing plans to respond to irregular maritime migration in the Florida Straits and the Caribbean Sea. HSTF-SE maintains continual awareness of migrant flow rates, the geopolitical, social, economic and security environment, and other factors that might influence maritime migration trends to maintain security at sea and defend our maritime borders.

Migrants interdicted at sea after April 27, 2023 will be disqualified indefinitely from the lawful parole processes for Cubans and Haitians, announced in January.

Regardless of nationality, migrants interdicted at sea by Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations, Coast Guard, or state law enforcement crews will be repatriated to their country of origin, returned to their country of departure, or resettled in a third country in accordance with polices and plans governing maritime migration in the Florida Straits and the Caribbean Sea.

Anyone who arrives irregularly by sea to the United States, including its territories, will be apprehended by Border Patrol and will be subject to expedited removal.

Suspected human smuggling events will be investigated by Homeland Security Investigations.

CBP Office of Field Operations will continue to process airport and seaport arrivals.

According to a fact sheet, the Departments of Homeland Security and State are working together on a strategic approach to address migration challenges throughout the Western Hemisphere. HSTF-SE is engaged in a widespread messaging campaign to provide accurate information to national and international audiences, and to deter maritime migration. The HSTF-SE Unified Command includes the following federal, state and local partners: DHS and its components (USCG, CBP, ICE, USCIS, FEMA) and Health and Human Services, Florida Division of Emergency Management, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Miami-Dade County and Monroe County.

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 Florida Straits. HSTF-SE continues enhanced maritime border enforcement efforts in support of Operation Vigilant Sentry, the 2004 DHS plan to respond to irregular maritime migration in the Caribbean Sea and the Florida Straits.

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