After  being apprehended by Joint Task Force officers near Virgin Gorda on Sept. 22, 23 migrants were being detained by the Immigration Department as of Monday, JTF Chairman Wade Smith said that day. 

Seven of the migrants were Brazilian and 16 were Haitian, according to Mr. Smith, who also heads Customs. 

Asked whether the group would be taken to court or sent away, he said it is “hard to say exactly what that next step is. That matter is now with Immigration, and they will be processed in accordance with immigration laws.” 

Attempts to reach Chief Immigration Officer Ian Penn were unsuccessful.  

On Monday, Police Information Officer Diane Drayton declined to comment. 

Responding to “intelligence,” JTF officers from the customs, immigration and police departments deployed to an area near Virgin Gorda on Sept. 22, where they found a vessel carrying the migrants and detained the people onboard, according to Mr. Smith. 

Once the migrants were apprehended, they were tested for Covid-19 by staff from the BVI Health Services Authority, Mr. Smith said. 

“I would like to commend BVIHSA for their quick response and being there to do the … requisite tests,” he added. 

Haiti has been reeling from a series of successive crises in recent months.  

A 7.2-magnitude earthquake on Aug. 14 left at least 650,000 people in need of humanitarian assistance, and the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse plunged the country’s already unstable political situation into further disarray.


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