Coast Guard returns 45 migrants to Cuba after boats spotted near Florida Keys
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US officials returned dozens of migrants to Cuba on Sunday after the US Coast Guard intercepted four different vessels last week.
Each of the boats was in waters near the Florida Keys and reported to authorities by onlookers.
“The possibility of being arrested by Coast Guard crews while migrating illegally across the Caribbean Sea is high,” said Lt. Cmdr. Mark Cobb of the Seventh Coast Guard District said in a statement. “No one should risk their life on dangerous rustic ships in unpredictable seas.”
The first boat was found Wednesday evening 20 km off Boot Key, the Coast Guard said. The others were reported Friday, with one boat spotted 17 miles off Long Key around 11:45 a.m. and two off Big Pine Key around noon, one at 17 miles and one at 22 miles.
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Officials described each boat as a “rustic vessel”.
On Sunday, the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Charles Sexton brought a total of 45 migrants from those ships back to Cuba. The coast guard said all migrants on board the coast guard receive “food, water, shelter and basic medical care”.
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According to the Coast Guard, this means that 2,464 Cuban Coast Guard crew have been banned since Oct. 1, 2021, by far the highest total since fiscal year 2016, which had a total of 5,396.
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By comparison, the Coast Guard intercepted 1,468 Cuban migrants in fiscal year 2017, 259 in fiscal year 2018, 313 in fiscal year 2019, 49 in fiscal year 2020, and 838 in fiscal year 2020. of the 2021 financial year.
This corresponds to a similar trend in the increase in the number of migrants along the US-Mexico border. US Customs and Border Protection announced last week that May saw a record 239,416 encounters with migrants.