Tags: Cuba | migrants | Florida | immigration

Coast Guard Responds to Surge of Cuban Migrants

Tuesday, 06 Jan 2015 07:03 PM

The U.S. Coast Guard has intensified patrols off the Florida coast in response to a surge of Cuban migrants trying to flee the island on makeshift vessels, apparently spurred by rumors that the U.S. immigration policy could soon change, officials said.

A cold snap on Tuesday was slowing the activity at least temporarily, said Coast Guard spokesman Petty Officer Mark Barney, but the rush could resume when the weather improved.

In the first five days of 2015, 96 Cuban migrants were intercepted at sea as they tried to cross the 90-mile-wide Florida Straits separating Cuba from the United States, the Coast Guard said in a statement.

In December, 481 Cuban migrants were either turned around at sea or landed in the United States, representing an increase of 117 percent from the same month a year earlier, the agency said.

The wave appeared to stem from rumors that President Barack Obama's restoration of ties with the Communist-controlled island would soon lead to the end of Washington's "wet-foot, dry-foot policy," Barney said.

The policy allows Cuban migrants who make it onto U.S. soil to remain under a special immigration exception, while those intercepted at sea are turned back.

There was no mention of immigration policy changes when Havana and Washington announced on Dec. 17 that they plan to renew diplomatic relations and potentially bring an end to decades of hostility.

"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," the Coast Guard said in its statement, issued on Monday.

This past weekend, a Cuban migrant died after a makeshift vessel with four passengers aboard capsized in rough seas off the Cayman Islands.

In addition to activity off the Florida coast, Cubans have been fleeing in increasing numbers to Central America by sea, then attempting to reach the United States by land.

© 2017 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

   
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The U.S. Coast Guard has intensified patrols off the Florida coast in response to a surge of Cuban migrants trying to flee the island on makeshift vessels, apparently spurred by rumors that the U.S. immigration policy could soon change, officials said.A cold snap on Tuesday...
Cuba, migrants, Florida, immigration
315
2015-03-06
Tuesday, 06 Jan 2015 07:03 PM
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