US Coast Guard returns 40 migrants back to Cuba

A Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations boat crew rescued people from a rustic vessel taking on water about 8 miles south of Key West, Florida, after a civilian notified Sector Key West watchstanders of their distress, Monday, May 30, 2022. people were repatriated to Cuba on June 2.

A Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations boat crew rescued people from a rustic vessel taking on water about 8 miles south of Key West, Florida, after a civilian notified Sector Key West watchstanders of their distress, Monday, May 30, 2022. people were repatriated to Cuba on June 2.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection AMO

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.

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A civilian reported to Coast Guard Sector Key West watchstanders a rustic vessel about 20 miles south of Boot Key, Florida, Tuesday, May 31, 2022. The people were repatriated June 2. US Coast Guard, Marathon Station

READ MORE: The biggest wave of Cuban migrants arriving in US since 1980 is driving policy changes

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.”

READ MORE: Lost contact with migrant relatives sailing to Florida? Here’s how to get their status

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

READ MORE: US Coast Guard returns 223 migrants back to Haiti, Cuba. Some stopped off Florida Keys

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

Omar is a bilingual and bicultural journalist, covering breaking news in South Florida for the Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald. He has a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin and a bachelor’s degree in education from the Universidad de Puerto Rico en Río Piedras.

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