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The United States is detaining 396 Haitian migrants from a 15-meter boat near the Bahamas


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Bahamas officials say the US Coast Guard has seized a boat carrying 396 Haitian migrants near the Bahamas, in one of the largest incidents of people smuggling in the region.

Bahamas immigration officials said in a statement Sunday that the migrants were detained near the remote island of Cay Sal, located between Florida and Cuba.

They said the migrants would be dealt with on the Bahamian island of Inagua and repatriated at a later date.

Nicole Groll, a spokeswoman for the US Coast Guard, told The Associated Press Monday that the ban occurred Saturday afternoon and involved a 50-foot boat.

“It was very overloaded and very unsafe,” she said.

No further details were immediately available.

Thousands of Haitians are fleeing rising gang violence and worsening political instability in a country that currently has no democratically elected institutions.

Many travel to the Bahamas and other nearby islands in hopes of eventually reaching Florida. The journeys are often deadly, with migrants crammed onto makeshift boats that have capsized in recent months.

The exodus comes as US President Joe Biden’s administration recently announced it would begin turning away Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans and Venezuelans at the Texas border who arrive illegally.

The administration is now offering humanitarian release to 30,000 people a month from those countries if they secure a financial sponsor, apply online and pay their fare.

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