More than 100 Haitians who washed ashore in the Turks and Caicos after their boat was intercepted early Monday are being processed and will be returned home, the islands’ border control minister said.
R.D. Gardiner, minister for border control and labor, said 168 Haitians were spotted shortly after midnight Monday morning. Their boat was intercepted and brought to shore at 12:30 a.m.
“The Government of the Turks and Caicos Islands will not tolerate this illegal activity,” Gardiner said. “While we cannot stop boats from leaving other countries to come here, we can and will remain vigilant to that activity, and through our border control systems, we will monitor our shores to maintain the integrity of our boarders and our immigration laws and protect our national security.’’
Gardiner stressed that the sea voyage is dangerous, often on overcrowded and unsafe vessels that endanger lives.
“We will not tolerate any abuse of our security. We will detect your ship, your ship will be seized and destroyed and its captain prosecuted,” he said in a statement. “We will detain anyone who try to come here illegally and they will be sent back home.”
The issue of illegal immigration of Haitian migrants in the Turks and Caicos has been a major concern for the British-dependent territory’s elected government. During a visit to Haiti in February for a meeting of the Caribbean Community, Turks and Caicos Premier Rufus Ewing raised the issue with Haitian government officials. Last month, Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe visited the islands for the first time, during which he met with Ewing and members of the Haitian community.