Capt. Aldante Vinciguerra, Coast Guard 7th District chief of response, talks about the dangers of illegal migration attempts to the United States via the maritime domain and discourages migrants to take to the sea in unsafe and unseaworthy vessels. A total of approximately 4,567 migrants have attempted to illegally enter the U.S. via the maritime environment since Oct. 1, the beginning of the 2019 fiscal year, compared to 4,302 migrants in the fiscal year 2018. U.S. Coast Guard video by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Lally and Petty Officer 3rd Class Brandon Murray
[Vinciguerra] The risk is not worth the gain when you’re taking to sea. The sea is an unforgiving environment, and often the vessels that these individuals are transiting on are not sea worthy, and that is a very dangerous combination which could very easily end in disaster. Weather, especially in our area, can go from flat calm to extremely high seas very quickly, and without the proper safety equipment, communications gear and know-how of being a sailor, you’re putting a lot of people at risk. This year, we have seen a slight uptick in the number of migrants that have taken to the sea to come into the United States illegally. So we have more aircraft overhead to locate these vessels, and we have more surface assets with our partner agencies on the water to intercept these vessels when they come across. And that’s one of the main reasons why we keep pushing, please do not take to the sea. This is one of the hardest missions that the Coast Guard does as far as emotionally, because no one wants to see people suffer. No one does. We’d see the suffering, we would seek the type of families they have, but we also have to understand there’s a legal way and there’s an illegal way. We’ve had people killed this year, numerous people, on accidents both in the Bahamas and in the Florida straits, where vessels sunk, vessels ran aground, and multiple deaths resulted from those incidents. And again, taking to sea is definitely not the answer, because that is probably one of the most dangerous ways to get into the United States. So our goal is to keep that from happening, and to make them safe, we have to interdict them and send them back to their country, and that will prevent the pull factor of other boats taking to the sea, going that same route and putting them and their families at risk. So although it is heart-wrenching when we pick them up and deliver them back to their country, we have to realize the greater good of the people that we’re actually saving by preventing folks from coming through that method.