12 Cuban migrants made landfall in Key West, Border Patrol says
MIAMI — Twelve Cuban migrants landed in Key West early Wednesday morning, according to the U.S. Border Patrol.
The people arrived in a “homemade vessel” around 2:30 a.m. Eastern time near the famous Southernmost Point marker and were taken into custody, Border Patrol spokesman Adam Hoffner said.
They will likely be sent back to Cuba on a Coast Guard cutter.
Maritime migration from Cuba to South Florida has been climbing since the fiscal year began Oct. 1. The Coast Guard has stopped more than 700 people willing to make the dangerous journey across the Florida Straits.
In all of last fiscal year, the Coast Guard stopped 49 people.
Experts say the exodus is due to Cuba’s deteriorating economic and political conditions that include a worsening COVID-19 crisis.
“This is a dangerous journey across our Florida Straits,” Hoffner said. “The weather and sea state are very unpredictable this time of year. Migrants exposed to warm tropical temperatures while out at sea will quickly suffer the effects of dehydration.”
On Saturday, the Coast Guard returned 35 people to Cuba after stopping them off the Keys in five separate instances.
The so-called “wet-foot, dry-foot” policy in the U.S. ended in early 2017. It had allowed those who set foot on U.S. soil above the high-water mark to stay in the country and apply for permanent residency after a year.