Days after the U.S. Coast Guard returned to Cuba 82 people who in recent weeks were caught at sea off the Florida Keys trying to migrate to the U.S., another group of migrants arrived on a beach in the island chain.
Three men and one woman made landfall near Sombrero Beach in the Middle Keys city of Marathon Sunday morning, according to the U.S. Border Patrol.
However, since the United States ended the so called “wet foot, dry foot” policy in 2017, they will be taken back to Cuba.
The defunct policy allowed Cubans who set foot on land above the high-water mark to stay in the country and apply for permanent residency after a year, and mandated that those caught at sea had to be taken back to the island nation.
Adam Hoffner, a Border Patrol spokesman, said the migrants told agents that they left Cuba on Saturday. They arrived in the Keys on a small green wooden boat.
Migrant attempts from Cuba are up significantly this year.
Experts say the reason people are willing to make the dangerous journey across the Florida Straits despite knowing they’ll be returned if caught is because of deteriorating economic conditions and a crackdown on dissidents within the Communist country.
The federal government tracks migrant activity by the fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. So far this fiscal year, more than 400 people have been caught at sea or after they arrived in South Florida. In all of fiscal year 2020, by comparison, the Coast Guard only stopped 49 people at sea.