U.S. border agents found a dead migrant on an abandoned panga fishing boat in Carlsbad this past April. A month later, a cabin cruiser, overloaded with three dozen migrants, crashed into a reef near Point Loma, killing three people. Then, after a boat capsized near Encinitas in July, two migrants were hospitalized with hypothermia.
Customs and Border Protection agents stopped more migrants at sea in 2020 than during the previous three years, according to CBP data. Apprehensions along the Pacific Coast drove that increase, increasing from 44 stops in fiscal year 2017, to 766 in 2020.
Encounters at sea are still substantially lower than those on land, but experts say the shift to maritime crossings — in response to restrictive border policies and the devastation from COVID-19 across the hemisphere — is amplifying the danger these migrants face as they seek to reach the United States.
Since Oct. 1, 2020, agents in the CBP’s San Diego region, which stretches along the California coast from Imperial Beach to the Oregon border, have intercepted more than 330 marine vessels with 1,751 people. The number of people includes the migrants intercepted and U.S. citizens suspected of smuggling them.
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