A Cuban migrant raft sinks off the coast of Florida, December 31, 2015. The migrants safely embarked a Coast Guard smallboat and were repatriated to Cuba. US Coast Guard photo
MIAMI, USA -- The US Coast Guard has repatriated 216 Cuban migrants to Bahia de Cabañas, Cuba, within the past week.
These repatriations are a result of 18 separate migrant interdictions at sea in the south Florida Straits. In each instance, the Coast Guard helped secure the US border and prevented these perilous sea voyages from ending in tragedy.
The Coast Guard has observed a steady increase in illegal maritime migration attempts from Cuba to the Southeastern US since the US announcement of improved diplomatic relations with Cuba in December 2014, nearly 13 months ago. In the first five days of January 2016, 176 Cuban migrants have attempted to reach US shores.
“Immigration policies have not changed and we urge people not to take to the ocean in unseaworthy vessels," said Capt. Mark Fedor, Coast Guard 7th District chief of response. "It is illegal and extremely dangerous.”
The Coast Guard and partner agencies aggressively patrol the Florida Straits and the Caribbean Sea to detect and deter illegal and unsafe maritime migration. Safety of life at sea is always the Coast Guard's top priority.
Since October 1, the Coast Guard 7th District estimates that 1,800 Cubans have attempted to illegally migrate via the sea. These numbers represent the total number of at-sea interdictions, landings and disruptions in the Florida Straits, the Caribbean and Atlantic.