- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 2, 2021

Three people died after a boat trying to smuggle illegal immigrants into the U.S. capsized off the coast of San Diego Sunday.

At least 32 people were on the 40-foot boat, and 29 were rescued by lifeguards from the San Diego Fire Department, but the agency said there’s no way of knowing for certain how many people were on board since there was no manifest for the boat.

Five of the survivors were still in hospitals on Monday.

All but two of those known to be aboard were illegal immigrants from Mexico. One was an illegal immigrant from Guatemala, and the other was a U.S. citizen whom authorities say was captaining the boat.

The deaths are the latest in a growing toll accompanying the surge of illegal immigrants this year.

Drownings in the Rio Grande and tragic vehicle accidents involving smuggling drivers have also claimed an unusually high number of lives.

Taking the water route along the West Coast is usually more expensive for illegal immigrants. Though details of the payments in this incident aren’t yet known, The Washington Times’ database of smuggling cases shows payments of $14,000 per person are common. That’s about double the rate of a land-border crossing for Mexicans into California.

Smuggling attempts are up across the entire southern border, including the coast off California, where CBP says maritime arrests are up 40% over 2020, which was already more than 90% higher than 2019.

The Coast Guard and CBP issued a warning Friday that it was ramping up its coastal patrols — just two days before the tragic events of Sunday. The Coast Guard said it was still investigating why the boat ran into trouble.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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