A U.S. Coast Guard cutter returned 214 Haitians to their homeland Monday after the migrants were intercepted Friday night in a makeshift sailing freighter just east of Cuba.
The freighter contained 27 children – 11 of them infants, said Petty Officer Barry Bena, a U.S. Coast Guard spokesman.
Friday's interdiction comes amid a recent spike in Haitian migration to South Florida; January saw a significant increase in migration, with 742 Haitians interdicted at sea, records show.
Lt. Matthew J. Moorlag, a public affairs officer, said that, generally, "economics, natural disasters, and weather are significant factors in migration." Moreover, Moorlag said, "there may be an incorrect perception in Haiti and within the South Florida Haitian community that the presidential election would signal an immediate change in policy with regard to returning Haitians back to Haiti."
With 11 infants on board, the freighter represents a departure from typical migration patterns – one of which is a cause for concern among authorities.
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