The incident occurred Sunday, when an eyewitness called in the suspicious activity, a regional Coast Guard spokesman told the Washington Examiner on Monday. A statement from the Department of Homeland Security dubbed the eyewitness a "Good Sam" for reporting a "migrant voyage."
Coast Guardsmen dispatched to the scene discovered a rickety boat packed with people 18 miles off the coast of Biscayne Bay, south of Miami.
The Coast Guard originally reported 80 people on board, yet later announced that 104 people were discovered on the boat. The migrants were transferred to a much bigger ship, the 110-foot Coast Guard Cutter Richard Etheridge.
Migrants were provided food, water, shelter outside of the sun, and medical care.
The Coast Guard refused to comment on further details, including the repatriation process and details regarding the voyage.
The Coast Guard and Customs and Border Protection have been apprehending more people trying to illegally migrate from Cuba and Haiti to the United States by way of Florida this year.
The Department of Homeland Security last week extended eligibility for Haitians who are illegally living in the U.S. to apply for protection from deportation under the Temporary Protected Status program. Under TPS, nations facing severe hardship are exempted from having to repatriate citizens deported from the U.S. on the basis that they are not in a position to take them in.
Meanwhile, roughly 14,000 migrants - many of them Haitian - remain bottle-necked in the Colombian beach town of Necocli, awaiting their opportunity to enter Panama and resume their journey to the United States, as border crossing quotas are out-paced by new arrivals, migrants, and the town's mayor announced.
Tens of thousands of migrants pass through the town annually to catch boats across the Gulf of Uraba toward the jungles of the Darien Gap in Panama, where people smugglers supervise groups on foot via one of the most treacherous barriers on the clandestine route to the United States.
The majority of the migrants moving through Necocli are Haitian or Cuban, leaving desperate economic circumstances in their homelands, yet others come from African nations like Ghana and Mali. It remains unclear how many will be able to get legal status in the United States.
The lifting of COVID-19 border closures sent the number of migrants rising, with the foreign ministers of Colombia and Panama agreeing last month that 650 migrants could initially cross every day, with the quota gradually declining to 500.