15 Cuban migrants sent back to island

The crew of the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Charles David Jr. repatriated 15 Cuban migrants to Bahia de Cabañas, Cuba, Tuesday.

These repatriations are a result of three separate migrant interdictions at sea within the past week in the Florida Straits.

Said Capt. Mark Gordon, chief of enforcement for the Coast Guard 7th District. "The dangerous waters of the Florida Straits can be unforgiving for the unprepared on ill advised and illegal voyages. Immigration policies have not changed and we urge people not to take to the ocean in unseaworthy vessels. It is illegal and extremely dangerous."

Once aboard a Coast Guard cutter, migrants receive food, water, shelter and basic medical attention.

Since Oct. 1, at least 4,406 Cubans have attempted to illegally migrate to the U.S. via the sea compared to 4,473 in 2015. The statistics represent the total number of at-sea interdictions, landings and “disruptions” in the Florida Straits, the Caribbean and Atlantic, the Coast Guard said.

The Charles David Jr. is a 154-foot fast response cutters homeported out of Key West, Florida.

These repatriations did not include 19 Cuban migrants interdicted at the American Shoal Light off Sugarloaf Key, the Coast Guard said. They remain in Coast Guard custody as a judge considers whether landing at the lighthouse constituted “dry foot.” Under U.S. policy, Cubans who make it to U.S. soil can stay and apply for residency after a year. Those found at sea are sent back to Cuba.

Keynoter Staff