A boat believed to be illegally smuggling people into the United States capsized off the coast of San Diego Sunday morning, killing three people and injuring 27 others. While human smuggling by sea is not a new trend, Sunday’s tragedy sheds new light on the border crisis and is likely to put more pressure on the White House with the recent record illegal crossings.
Local and federal authorities are confident this was another mission to bring migrants illegally into the US by sea.
The United States Customs and Border Patrol said it has every reason to believe this was a human trafficking operation and that they have begun questioning the boat operator they believe is the main smuggler.
“The man who we think was the operator, the agents are with him, and is the suspected smuggler, but the investigation is still ongoing,” said border officer Jeff Stephenson.
This operation comes just days after USBP chief agent Aaron Heitke said his agency would be conducting more patrols this weekend to combat smuggling by sea.
“We put more resources in the water to ban ships like this and announced it in advance to deter as much as possible from trying to send a message to smugglers,” Stephenson said at a news conference on Sunday.
According to KTLA, the 12-meter cabin boat carrying 30 people was toppled off the coast of Point Loma on Sunday morning. Rescue teams arrived on the scene and found that the boat “had in fact disintegrated,” said Lt. Rick Romero, lifeguard from San Diego.
Lifeguards, fire and rescue crews began arriving on site around 10 a.m. local time on Sunday in boats and jet skis, only to find the boat in tatters and that it would become a more difficult rescue task on the rugged and rugged peninsula.
“There are people in the water who are drowning, who are being sucked out of the electric shock there,” Romero said.
The area where the boat was maneuvering has been cut into cubes with splintered wood and other debris in choppy water.
“It’s very rocky in that area of Point Loma. It’s likely that the waves kept pounding the boat and breaking it apart,” said Jose Ysea, spokesman for the San Diego fire department.
Former president Donald Trump used the migrant crisis at the southern border as his rallying cry to help him get elected in 2016. As illegal border crossings plummeted towards the end of his government, the new government fell under Joe Biden some strict border tactics relaxed. Since then, illegal border crossings have reached new heights.
There were 172,331 border encounters in March of this year, which is dwarfed every month during the Trump administration. And it was only Biden’s second full month as president.
Biden was appointed vice president Kamala Harris to be in charge of the new migrant crisis. Since her appointment, Harris has not traveled to the US southern border, which is expected to have received severe criticism Republicans, but also from the left.
Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii said the border and migrant scenarios are a “crisis” and that the vice president should see it for himself.
“I think the president is calling it a crisis,” Hirono said. “I would call it a crisis. We could call it a challenge. But we know what the factors are. We know what’s happening. So whatever you call it, we’ll have to do something about it. We’re going to take it up. should approach it in a humane way. “