MIAMI — The Coast Guard repatriated 121 Cuban migrants to Bahia de Cabañas, Cuba, Monday interdicted in seven separate events in the past week.
All seven interdictions included unseaworthy, homemade vessels that posed significant risk to the migrants attempting to make the perilous journey.
The Coast Guard has increased patrols in the Florida Straits in response to the surge of illegal migration attempts into the United States over the last three weeks while continuing to aggressively patrol the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico.
“The Administration’s recent announcement regarding Cuba does not affect immigration policies including wet foot/dry foot or the Cuban Adjustment Act – which only Congress can change,” said Rear Adm. Jake Korn, Coast Guard 7th District commander.
“U.S. Coast Guard missions and operations in the Caribbean, Straits of Florida and Gulf of Mexico remain unchanged. The Coast Guard strongly discourages attempts to illegally enter the United States by taking to the sea. The Coast Guard is aggressively maintaining a presence in the region and discourages these dangerous and deadly voyages. Individuals must have a visa or other permission to travel to the States and anyone located at sea will be returned to Cuba in accordance with immigration laws,” he said
In the month of December, a total of 481 Cuban migrants have been either interdicted at sea or landed in the United States during 37 total events. That is a 117% increase from December 2013.
In the first five days of 2015, a total of 96 Cuban migrants have been interdicted at sea during seven events in the Florida Straits.
“Coast Guard missions and operations in the southeast remain unchanged,” said Capt. Mark Fedor, Coast Guard 7th District chief of response. “The Coast Guard strongly discourages attempts to illegally enter the country by taking to the sea. These trips are extremely dangerous. Our main goal is to support national policy of orderly, safe and legal migration through deterrence of unlawful maritime migration, including migrant smuggling.”