The Coast Guard intercepted five Cuban immigrants when they sailed in a small boat about 55 miles (88 kilometers) southwest of Marathon Island in the southern tip of Florida on Friday, the federal agency reported Sunday.
The Coast Guard aircraft located the rustic boat with five people on board and notified their station in Islamorada, which ordered the sending of a boat and a helicopter to the area.
The ship safely embarked the five rafters, all of them Cuban adult men, and destroyed the ship, the Coast Guard said in a statement.
After being detained, migrants were transferred to another Coast Guard boat that repatriated them to Cabañas, in Cuba.
Previously, Coast Guard agents had provided them with food, water and basic medical care.
“Those who are intercepted at sea and who try to enter illegally (to the United States) will be repatriated to their country, according to immigration policy,” said Scott Goss, commander of Islamorada Station.
The head of the coastguard at the base of this agency in the Florida Keys recalled the danger of throwing into the sea in these types of boats, because the conditions of the sea can “change in an instant” and can be “relentless” to the boats that are often used for these trips.
About 384 Cuban migrants have tried to enter the United States illegally by sea in the fiscal year 2019, which began on October 1, 2018.
This figure, which includes the total number of arrests at sea in the Straits of Florida, Caribbean and Atlantic, is somewhat less than the 406 Cuban migrants intercepted in the 2018 fiscal year.
In January of 2017, the then president of the United States, Barack Obama, canceled the “wet feet/dry feet” policy, decreed in 1995 and by which Cubans who touched territory were favored with the Cuban Adjustment Act and could stay in the country and even obtain permanent residence, while the others were deported to the island.
Shortly before the elimination of this benefit, in the Straits of Florida there was an unusual arrival of migrants from the Caribbean country, given that many anticipated the end of “wet feet/dry feet”.
After the cancellation of the policy, the crossing of the so-called “rafters” was significantly reduced and they became more unusual.