The migrants might be transferred to federal regulation enforcement brokers within the Keys after which processed by regional U.S. Border Patrol stations to find out their authorized standing, Rear Adm. Brendan C. McPherson, commander of the Seventh Coast Guard District mentioned in a press release. “Irregular, unlawful maritime migration is at all times harmful and fairly often lethal. Don’t take to the ocean,” he mentioned.
Although the Nationwide Park Service didn’t specify the place the migrants have been from, it said the Florida Keys have seen an uptick in arrivals from Cuba. The Coast Guard, which sent 80 asylum seekers back to the Cuba final week, has additionally had numerous current at-sea interdictions, however has not shared particular numbers.
In the meantime, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Workplace mentioned that more than 160 refugees landed within the center and higher Florida Keys over the weekend. Sheriff Rick Ramsay blamed Washington in a press release, saying it “exhibits a scarcity of a working plan by the federal authorities to take care of a mass migration challenge that was foreseeable” and describing the event as a “humanitarian disaster.” (Ramsay endorsed Donald Trump, who promised to tighten U.S. borders, for president in 2020)
Lt. Cmdr. John Beal, a spokesman for the U.S. Coast Guard’s Seventh District and the Homeland Safety Activity Power, Southeast, didn’t agree with the sheriff’s characterization.
“I can’t converse on behalf of the sheriff,” he mentioned through textual content message, “however I might not say it is a disaster. Historic precedent has proven a discount in the course of the winter months as a result of maritime climate will get worse and doesn’t assist the small, rustic, overloaded vessels making harmful crossings over the FL Straits.”
The rise in arrivals, he recommended, is a results of “unseasonably good climate” that makes situations extra appropriate to “very harmful maritime ventures” to enter america by sea.
Cuba, which is ruled by an authoritarian, one-party system, has been gripped by financial disaster for greater than a yr, spurring blackouts, meals shortages and hovering inflation. In December, U.S. authorities statistics estimated that 250,000 Cubans — 2 % of the nation’s inhabitants — have fled for america prior to now yr, amid what specialists have referred to as the largest exodus of Cubans in historical past.
The migrants come as Trump-era migration insurance policies are being contested. Final week, the Supreme Court blocked the Biden administration’s effort to finish Title 42, a pandemic-era border coverage enacted by Trump that permits officers to rapidly expel migrants from america with out permitting them the chance to hunt asylum.
Biden’s try to finish Stay in Mexico, one other Trump-era coverage that sends asylum seekers again to Mexico to await immigration proceedings, was additionally thwarted by a federal decide in Texas last month.
Authorities are nonetheless working to find out precisely what number of migrants tried to enter the park, in addition to their nationalities and case for staying in america. However first, they should be moved to Key West. “There is no such thing as a infrastructure to assist life the place they’re now (no water, meals, medical assets to maintain any long run presence),” Beal wrote.
In accordance with data from the seventh District, the Coast Guard interdicted 4,076 Cuban migrants within the final three months of the 2022 calendar yr. There have been 6,182 interdictions within the 2022 fiscal yr, which ended Sept. 30, and 838 in 2021.