The US Coast Guard sent 40 people back to Cuba on Thursday after stopping them off the Florida Keys earlier this week.
They were found in two boats Monday and Tuesday as US authorities report the largest exodus of Cuban balseros since 2016.
The surge of Cubans and Haitians trying to get to the US is expected to be discussed when hemispheric leaders meet in Los Angeles on June 6 during the Summit of the Americas. The event is being hosted by the US for the first time since it was launched in Miami in 1994
At 1 pm Tuesday, a civilian reported to authorities a light blue migrant vessel sighting 20 miles south of Boot Key, the Coast Guard said in a news release. “God is fair. The ones that seek, find (what they are looking for),” their tiny and fragile boat said in Spanish black lettering.
A civilian also alerted authorities about a “rustic vessel” taking on water eight miles south of Key West at 12:40 pm Monday. They were rescued by a Customs and Border Protection crew.
“These people are fortunate to be alive after making a dangerous journey in unpredictable seas,” said Lt. Travis Poulos, Coast Guard Seventh District. “As hurricane season progresses, these voyages will be even more treacherous.”
The Coast Guard tallies the number of migrants detained by fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1 and ends Sept. 30 of the following year. Since Oct. 1 of last year, Coast Guard crews have stopped 2,103 Cubans compared to:
- 838 Cuban migrants in Fiscal Year 2021
- 49 Cuban migrants in Fiscal Year 2020
- 313 Cuban migrants in Fiscal Year 2019
- 259 Cuban migrants in Fiscal Year 2018
- 1,468 Cuban migrants in Fiscal Year 2017
- 5,396 Cuban migrants in Fiscal Year 2016
On Tuesday, the Coast Guard returned 223 US-bound migrants to Haiti and Cuba after detaining eight boats at sea during the Memorial Day weekend. The vessels were stopped off the Florida Keys, the Bahamas and Haiti