FLORIDA, UNITED STATES- U.S. Border Patrol reports 18 Cubans arrived in the Keys on Monday, continuing a trend of emigration from Cuba to South Florida over the past year.
According to the agency, a wooden boat carrying the group landed about 6:30 a.m. near Marathon, a city in the Middle Keys.
Adam Hoffner, chief of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Division, says there were 17 men and one woman among the group; upon being questioned by agents, they said they departed from Matanzas, Cuba, although it wasn’t immediately clear how long they were at sea for.
Hoffner said Border Patrol agents are examining reports of another immigrant landing on Lower Matecumbe Key on Sunday.
63 Haitian migrants arrived onshore near a remote road in north Key Largo in a wooden boat last week.
Individuals in both incidents will likely be sent back to their home countries, however, U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement has not divulged where the Haitian migrants have been taken or if officials have conducted ‘credible fear’ interviews with members of the group to assess their potential asylum claims.
In the past, Cuban migrants were allowed to remain in the United States if they stepped on land above the high-water mark. However, the Obama administration ended this “wet-foot, dry-foot” policy at the beginning of 2017.
Those caught at sea were returned to Cuba under that 1995 revision of the Cuban Adjustment Act. Today, almost all Cuban migrants, whether stopped at sea or on land, are deported.
Due to the legal incentive not to attempt the dangerous maritime journey across Florida Straits after wet-foot, dry-foot ended, very few people attempted the hazardous journey in the immediate years following its end. Those days are over now.
The federal government tracks migration by fiscal year, beginning and ending Oct. 1. The Coast Guard halted almost 840 attempted maritime migrations from Cuba to South Florida as of last fiscal year, up from fewer than 50 the year before.
The Coast Guard reported that about 250 people have already been stopped making the journey less than two months into the fiscal year 2022.
According to experts on Cuba, more and more people are willing to risk their lives to flee Cuba due to the deteriorating fiscal, healthcare, and political conditions on the island.