Cuban migrants arrive on shore in the Florida Keys

David Goodhue
·2 min read

A group of Cuban migrants arrived by boat in the Middle Florida Keys city of Marathon Friday afternoon.

According to dispatch records from the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, the U.S. Coast Guard received a report earlier in the afternoon of a vessel carrying them about two miles off Marathon.

They landed around 1:30 p.m., according to the sheriff’s office.

U.S. Border Patrol spokesman Adam Hoffner said the agency apprehended 13 men.

They will likely be processed for removal by the Border Patrol and sent back to Cuba aboard a Coast Guard cutter.

A group of Cuban men who were caught by Border Patrol agents after they landed in the Florida Keys Friday, April 9, 2021, sit handcuffed in the back of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations boat.
A group of Cuban men who were caught by Border Patrol agents after they landed in the Florida Keys Friday, April 9, 2021, sit handcuffed in the back of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations boat.

Federal officials track migration by fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. The numbers of people making the risky journey across the Florida Straits from Cuba, often in unseaworthy vessels, have increased recently after having plummeted in the years after the Obama administration did away with the so-called “wet-foot, dry-foot” policy in early 2017.

Under the policy, those caught at sea were sent back to Cuba. Those who set foot on U.S. soil above the high water line, however, were allowed to stay and apply for permanent residency after a year.

In the months before the policy ended, many in Cuba predicted its demise, and there was a surge of migration away from the island. Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection and Border Patrol officials were apprehending dozens of migrants a week who were hoping to get to the States while there was still incentive.

In fiscal year 2016, the Coast Guard stopped 5,395 Cuban people at sea who were trying to reach Florida. By last fiscal year, that number was down to just 49 people.

However, migration attempts have already risen by more than 100% with six months to go this fiscal year, according to figures released by the Coast Guard.

Jorge Duany, director of the Cuban Research Institute at Florida International University, said earlier this year that the increase in migration is likely due to a combination of worsening economic and humanitarian conditions within Cuba, and hope that the administration of President Joe Biden will be more tolerant to undocumented immigrants.