A group of 42 Haitian migrants landed on the beach at Crandon Park Tuesday afternoon, causing a multi-agency law enforcement search that led to four individuals being apprehended in Key Biscayne, the Border Patrol and local officials said.
The migrants made it to shore from a sport fisherman lodged next to a sandbar at Crandon, witnesses said. Beachgoers said they saw some men who’d been resting under some palm trees be taken into custody, while other agents raced across the sand on ATV’s. Television stations showed pictures of officers taking other men into custody on the Rickenbacker Causeway.
In Key Biscayne, Police Lt. Pete Zayas said as soon as the Village was alerted to the landing, an officer was posted at Calusa park and another was placed on the beach. Shortly afterwards, three individuals were placed into custody outside the Starbucks on Crandon Blvd.
“Our mission was, hey, are you guys OK, are you dehydrated, injured?” Zayas said. He said language barriers prevented much more in the way of communication, and the men were transferred to the Border Patrol.
The vessel will be seized and the landing is under investigation, the Border Patrol said.
In May, the Biden administration granted protected status to Haitians already living in the U.S. because of ongoing social unrest — before the island was hit with an earthquake Aug. 14 that has killed more than 2,000 and Tropical Depression Grace a few days later.
Garrett Winton and Dee Holliday, visitors from New York, watched as helicopters circled over the boat, officers continued their search, and reflected about the risk the Haitians took.
“It makes you feel pretty lucky that we get to enjoy this beach,” he said, noting poverty and political turmoil. “They’re trying to escape all that.”
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EDITORS NOTE – Garrett Winton is not related to the author.
Tony Winton is the editor-in-chief of the Key Biscayne Independent and president of Miami Fourth Estate, Inc. He worked previously at The Associated Press for three decades winning multiple Edward R. Murrow awards. He was president of the News Media Guild, a journalism union, for 10 years. Born in Chicago, he is a graduate of Columbia University. His interests are photography and technology, sailing, cooking, and science fiction.