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Cuban migrants still risking dangerous journey to U.S., landing in Florida Keys

A rustic boat sits on shore of Key West Monday, April 1, 2019. It carried a group of six Cuban nationals who told U.S. Border Patrol agents they left Mariel, Cuba, on March 30.
A rustic boat sits on shore of Key West Monday, April 1, 2019. It carried a group of six Cuban nationals who told U.S. Border Patrol agents they left Mariel, Cuba, on March 30.

While Cuban migrant landings are way down from the days leading up to the end of “wet foot, dry foot” two years ago, recent events at sea and on land indicate people are still willing to risk the dangerous waters of the Florida Straits to migrate here.

On April 1, the U.S. Border Patrol arrested six Cubans who made landfall in Key West. They were found near the Casa Marina Resort on Reynolds Street, said Adam Hoffner, agent in charge of the Border Patrol in the Keys.

They told agents they left the Port of Mariel on March 30 and spent two days at sea.

“There were no injuries reported and all subjects appeared to be in good health,” Hoffner said Tuesday.

On March 20, Border Patrol agents took seven Cubans into custody who landed in Key Largo. The Border Patrol did not provide specific details about that event.

In both cases, the migrants were processed by the Border Patrol and sent back to Cuba.

Two years ago, they would have been able to stay, but the Obama administration ended the “wet foot, dry foot” policy in early 2017 because of the thawing diplomatic ties with the Castro regime.

Wet foot, dry foot was a policy that allowed Cubans who set foot on U.S. soil to stay and apply for permanent residency after a year. Those caught at sea were sent home.

Less than a week after the landing in Key West, the U.S. Coast Guard intercepted a boat holding 11 Cubans sailing about 24 miles east of Cay Sal, an uninhabited Bahamian island located between Key West and Cuba.

On Sunday, a Coast Guard landing party found eight Cubans hiding on Cay Sal.

Cuban migrants are greeted by witnesses as they arrive in the Florida Keys after a journey at sea on a makeshift boat.

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