US Coast Guard returns 273 migrants intercepted off Florida to Cuba


The US Coast Guard said it repatriated 273 Cuban migrants on Sunday after intercepting a number of boats off the coast of Florida on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

The migrants were returned to Cuba aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Mohawk, according to a press release.

“The Coast Guard continues to interdict and rescue migrants from grossly overloaded and unseaworthy vessels,” said Lt. Cmdr. John Beal of Coast Guard District Seven.

“These illegal trips are always dangerous and often deadly. We are working closely with partner agencies to save lives and prevent illegal entry into the United States through our Southeast Maritime Border,” Beal said.

The migrants were intercepted several times on December 31, 2022 and January 1, 2023, the statement said.

One of the ships had capsized when a “good Samaritan” alerted the Coast Guard to his presence in waters about 35 miles north of Havana, he added.

According to the coast guard, once the migrants were on board a coast guard, they received food, water, shelter and basic medical care.

The Coast Guard said its crews intercepted 4,795 Cubans since Oct. 1, 2022, compared to 6,182 Cuban migrants in fiscal year 2022, 838 Cuban migrants in fiscal year 2021, and 49 Cuban migrants in fiscal year 2022. fiscal year 2020.

On Friday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed an executive order activating the state’s National Guard and directing law enforcement and other state agencies to provide resources to help local governments respond. to the influx of migrants, his office said in a press release.

Last week, the National Park Service announced it was temporarily closing Dry Tortugas National Park in the Florida Keys to the public due to an influx of migrants from Cuba.

In a news release, the service said the park would be closed for several days “while law enforcement and medical personnel assess, treat and coordinate transportation to Key West for approximately 300 migrants who arrived at the park in past two days.”

The park is about 113 kilometers west of Key West and can only be reached by boat or seaplane.

“Like elsewhere in the Florida Keys, the park has recently seen an increase in the number of people arriving by boat from Cuba and landing on the islands of Dry Tortugas National Park,” the park service said.

The park’s closure “is necessary for the safety of visitors and staff due to the resources and space needed to care for migrants,” the park service said.

The agency announced On Sunday, the park would reopen at 8 a.m. on Monday, January 9.


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