The Customs and Border Protection press release started:
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the U.S. Coast Guard apprehended Tuesday 18 non-citizens of the Dominican Republic that arrived into the Port of San Juan stowed away in a barge arriving from Jacksonville, Florida.
This raises several questions:
- Why would 18 non-citizens, once safely in prosperous Florida, decide to stow away en route to poverty-stricken Puerto Rico?
- Was Florida Governor Ron DeSantis playing games with another set of illegal entrants, as he did with the ones he sent to another U.S. island, Martha’s Vineyard?
- Why should those federal agencies focus on “18 non-citizens of the Dominican Republic” when 99.9 percent of the world’s population are not citizens of the Dominican Republic, including just about everyone reading this sentence?
- Or, more likely, does CBP need an editor, or three?
The text of the press release sounds as if it was written in another language and then clumsily translated into English.
After two email exchanges with the CBP/San Juan office the following picture emerges.
The stowaways, for criminals, had acted perfectly rationally; they were non-citizens of the U.S., and citizens of the DR; further, the route of the Florida-based barge was through waters just north of the Dominican Republic, and it was in those waters that the illegals managed to board the vessel, named The Brooklyn Bridge; they were found with 10 bricks of cocaine and a firearm.
The remaining questions are: Was this an act of piracy? Or did the illegals, more likely, work out a deal with the barge crew to carry the 18 and the drugs from DR waters to those of the U.S.? Also, were the barge’s owners involved? I am told that the Border Patrol is investigating these possibilities.
As to the value of the cocaine, that varies, a lot, based on the location and the details of the sale. One recent estimate — and I have no expertise here — suggests it would be in the neighborhood of $250,000, a rather small-scale deal.
Direction of Migration. The 18 would-be illegal entrants were traveling in an unusual direction; virtually all illicit migration to the states is through the south-to-north land route, via Mexico, or the less-used maritime path from Haiti and DR to Florida. Next there is the growing movement from Canada (or more exactly through Canada), as recently described by my colleague Andrew Arthur.
These stowaway migrants were moving from west to east. All such movements relate to our island-grabbing moves of more than 100 years ago. In addition to the attempts by the 18, there are relatively minor incursions from Samoa (a nation) to American Samoa (the U.S. territory) and from China and the Philippines to Guam and the Marianas. All ignore the famous advice of Horace Greeley.