Small boat carrying 23 Mexican nationals comes ashore near downtown Long Beach
A fishing boat carrying 23 Mexican nationals came ashore Wednesday in Long Beach, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials said.
The small, open-bowed panga vessel made landfall around 4 p.m. near 55th Place and Ocean Boulevard, less than four miles from downtown Long Beach, Border Patrol spokesman Jaime Ruiz said.
Its occupants, 21 men and two women, including two juveniles, identified themselves as Mexican citizens and were taken into custody by Border Patrol agents. No one was injured during the boat landing.
Migrant vessels don’t typically land in Long Beach, Ruiz said, noting they mostly come ashore farther south, near San Diego County.
It was not immediately clear where the travelers departed or how long their journey was, although similar vessels have come from the Baja area, Ruiz said. The trips are often initiated at night and can take up to 24 hours, depending on routes and currents.
“They go full-speed on the ocean, no navigational lights, no life vests,” he said. “It’s a very, very dangerous journey.”
Newly obtained data show that the U.S. government has detained more than 25,000 migrant children for longer than 100 days over the last six years.
Ruiz said a task force of agents from Border Patrol, the U.S. Coast Guard, Homeland Security and other law enforcement partners has seen an uptick in migrants arriving by water over the last three years — a trend he attributed to increased concerns about tightened border security on land.
Smugglers often promise easy passage and charge up to $10,000 per person for the journey, he said.
Each passenger on the vessel found in Long Beach will be interviewed individually, according to Ruiz. Those for whom the trip was a first offense will likely be repatriated back to Mexico, while the rest will be considered on a “case by case” basis, he said.
He could not yet say what the juveniles’ outcome would be, noting that it will depend on the findings of the investigation.
The boat has been seized by the Department of Homeland Security.
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