US returns 19 Cuban migrants held at sea

This content was published on Aug 20, 2021 – 00:14

MIAMI, Aug. 19 (EFE) – Authorities reported Thursday that the US Coast Guard has returned 19 Cuban immigrants who were being held in four naval intercepts near the Florida Keys.

In the first and according to an official statement, on August 7, a person notified Key West Coast Guard sector rangers of a sighting of a “suspicious” boat with two people on board, about 15 miles (24 km) east. Cayo Largo.

According to the news, a coast guard ship intercepted the two people, who turned out to be Cuban immigrants.

On the same day, according to a statement from the Coast Guard of the Seventh District, another “suspicious” boat was seen carrying seven people from the air.

This scene occurred about 48 miles (77 km) south of Marathon Key, where air and naval operations officers from the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) appeared.

There they intercepted the boat and transported seven Cuban immigrants in a Thunderbolt to take them back to the island.

Also on August 9 and in two other interceptions at sea, authorities stopped two additional ships with Cuban migrants on board, the first of them 78 miles (125 kilometers) south of Key West, where they found six Cuban migrants.

The last of that day took place at the same distance from the aforementioned key, but to the southeast, where they arrested five Cubans who were trying to reach American soil.

All but one of the detainees were transferred to the USS Charles David Jr. and repatriated them on Wednesday, in compliance with the 2017 repeal of the dry feet/wet feet policy that no longer allows Cuban immigrants to remain in the United States when they arrive by sea.

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The coast guard statement stated that it was “determined” that one of the Cuban migrants “deserves further examination and is being transferred to the relevant authorities.”

“Navigating the Florida Straits is difficult and unpredictable in rural boats,” said Officer Mario Gil, the US Coast Guard’s liaison with the US Embassy in Havana.

“Sailing in unsafe boats is dangerous and can lead to loss of life,” he added.

According to official data, since October 1, 2020, US Coast Guard crews have intercepted 663 Cubans compared to 5,396 immigrants from the same country in the entire 2016 fiscal year.

In 2017, 1,468 were intercepted at sea. In 2018 the number dropped to 259; The statement said that in 2019 there were 313 and in 2020 the authorities arrested only 49. EFE.

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