Twenty-one migrants who entered the territory illegally were apprehended March 21 in the North Sound area of Virgin Gorda, bringing the total number of migrants in the Immigration Department’s custody to 53 as of March 28, officials said.

The group includes 45 Haitian men, women and children, some of whom have been waiting for as long as six weeks while immigration officials try to navigate restrictions on sending them home to a country facing political instability and gang violence, according to information provided by acting Chief Immigration Officer Nadia Demming-Hodge.

The migrants found March 21 included 12 Romanians, four Haitians, two Colombians, one American, an Irish national and an Ecuadorian, Ms. Demming-Hodge told the Beacon.

Eighteen were male, including three children, and three were female, including an American child, she said.

Previous incidents

Migrants were also apprehended in two other recent incidents.

On Feb. 14 and 15 on Cooper Island and in nearby waters, 32 Haitians, including 11 children, were found along with the two Syrian men, according to police and immigration officials.

All told, 18 of them were males, including four children between the ages of 1.5 and 4, Ms. Demming-Hodge told the Beacon at the time.

The 16 females included seven children ranging from 1.5 to 5.5 years old.

On Feb. 29, 14 more migrants were found in an abandoned building on Virgin Gorda after entering the territory illegally, police said.

They included nine Haitians and one national each from Cameroon, Romania, Britain, Ecuador and France, Ms. Demming-Hodge said. Nine were male and five were female, including a French child, she added.

Castle Maria

As of March 26, the migrants apprehended on Feb. 15 and 29 remained at the temporary immigration detention centre at Hotel Castle Maria along with the four additional Haitians apprehended March 21, Ms. Demming-Hodge told the Beacon March 26.

“The additional 17 migrants were detained at Paradise Suites,” she wrote in an email. “However, the department has since repatriated 16 individuals, resulting in 53 migrants remaining in immigration custody, 45 of which are Haitians.”

She declined to comment on the costs of housing and processing the migrants.

Haiti violence

The violence in Haiti has escalated dramatically in recent weeks.

A coalition of armed gangs took control of much of the country after then-prime minister Ariel Henry left in late January to sign agreements in Kenya and Guyana for an international security force to help restore order.

The gangs prevented his return and demanded his resignation. This month, they got their wish.

After Caribbean leaders met in Jamaica on March 11 to discuss a way forward for the country, Mr. Henry said his government would resign following the formation of a transition council.

Mr. Henry had led the country since July 2021, following the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse.