Haitians left on barren islands off Puerto Rico
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) -- Three groups of migrants from Haiti and Cuba have been abandoned by smugglers in recent days on two barren islands off Puerto Rico, officials said Monday.
The migrants, 42 Haitians and five Cubans, were left on rugged Mona and Monita islands by smugglers transporting them from the Dominican Republic, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol spokesman Jeffrey Quinones said.
In one of the incidents, on May 22, a group of 20 Haitians, including one child, were found clinging to a rock off Mona Island after the smugglers forced them to jump into the water.
The two uninhabited islands are in the Mona Passage that separates the Dominican Republic and the U.S. island territory of Puerto Rico.
The migrants were taken into Border Patrol custody. Haitians are generally repatriated while Cubans who reach land in U.S. territory can stay in the country.
Separately, the Royal Bahamas Defense Force reported it had detained 76 Haitian migrants Friday night in an overloaded vessel passing through the Exuma chain. The migrants were in good health and were taken to Nassau, where they were to be processed before being sent back to their country, the military said in a statement released Monday.