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Jupiter migrant landing indicative of worldwide crisis, advocate says

Assistant executive director of Guatemalan-Maya Center says migrants taking their lives in their hands
Migrants run ashore on beach in Jupiter, Dec. 12, 2021
Posted at 3:41 PM, Dec 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-14 15:53:28-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The desperate scene Sunday at a Jupiter beach where about 50 migrants came ashore is indicative of a global crisis, the assistant executive director of the Guatemalan-Maya Center told WPTV.

She noted that more than 50 migrants died when a truck overturned in Mexico last week and nearly 30 died when their boat capsized in the English Channel last month.

"These are extremely dangerous journeys, and they know that and so they will say goodbye to their families prior to departing because they don't know if they'll ever meet their destination," Mari Blanco said.

The Guatemalan-Maya Center and other immigrant advocate groups said there needs to be a worldwide strategy to stop human smugglers — sometimes called coyotes — and to make it safer for migrants.

Blanco said that the scene that played out in front of beachgoers Sunday is not unusual for South Florida.

Cellphone video showed a boat full of migrants arriving along the beach in Jupiter on Sunday afternoon. In the video, some migrants were jumping off the boat while others helped them off the boat.

About two dozen migrants were detained by authorities.

WATCH: Migrants come ashore on beach in Jupiter

Migrants come ashore on beach in Jupiter

More than 20 people were detained on Oct. 22 when a large group of migrants came ashore in Haulover Beach in Miami-Dade County. The boat, authorities said, came from Haiti, which has seen an uptick in migrant travel due to political upheaval and a devastating August earthquake.

Homeland Security again declined Tuesday comment about what happened in Jupiter, saying the incident is still under investigation.

The U.S. Coast Guard also did not have additional information. It remains unknown if the boat, Reel Therapy, was stolen or owned by the smugglers. The captain fled the scene.

Dozens of migrants scurried ashore from a boat that arrived in Jupiter Sunday.
Dozens of migrants came ashore from this boat Dec. 12, 2021, in Jupiter, Fla.

Blanco said with border policies changing with the political winds in the U.S., there is not going to be any abatement of such brazen scenes as migrants running for cover on Sunday.

"It's just unfortunate a lot of countries are really in a crisis and they're so desperate to get out," she said. "They're facing famine and the pure poverty that these are just kinds of things that we're going to continue to see."

Blanco said the United Nations needs to get involved because countries are not accepting the fact that many of the migrants have legitimate claims to asylum.

"Lives are going to continue to be lost," she said. "It's time that we take responsibility."

Stopping human smugglers is very difficult, she said. In Mexico, more than 150 people were on the large truck that overturned.

"Until we find a better way to allow people in who are seeking asylum, the smugglers really have the upper hand in this," Blanco said.

The Guatemalan-Maya Center believes that humans worldwide have the inherent right to migrate, whether it be the Israelites leaving Egypt, the Spanish conquering the New World or Haitians fleeing an intolerable situation.

"You know, something has to be terribly, terribly wrong at home for them to make these journeys," Blanco said.