Forty-nine people were repatriated to Cuba on Monday, following interdictions off the Florida Keys, the U.S. Coast Guard reported in a news release.
The interdictions occurred amid the threat to South Florida from a system that would become Tropical Storm Alex over the weekend.
Authorities recommend caution, especially during the hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to November 30. The vessels were intercepted south of Long Key and Marathon and northwest of Elbow Cay, Bahamas, the Coast Guard said.
“Migrants illegally entering the U.S. using smugglers put their lives in the hands of criminals,” said Derek Gordon, the assistant special agent in charge of Department of Homeland Security Investigations. “Migrant smugglers are ruthless criminals who seek to profit from the suffering of migrants.”
In recent years, there has been a surge of immigrants trying to reach South Florida. Cuban migrants are arriving in the United States in the largest numbers seen in years.
Since Oct. 1, 2021, Coast Guard crews interdicted 2,186 Cuban migrants compared with:
- 5,396 in fiscal year 2016
- 1,468 in fiscal year 2017
- 259 in fiscal year 2018
- 313 in fiscal year 2019
- 49 in fiscal year 2020
- 838 in fiscal year 2021
According to a recent article in The New York Times, U.S. officials have said that about 150,000 Cuban immigrants are expected to arrive this year.
#Breaking @USCG Margaret Norvell's crew repatriated 49 Cubans to #Cuba, Mon.— USCGSoutheast (@USCGSoutheast) June 6, 2022
Hurricane season makes illegal migration in the unpredictable Caribbean Sea even more treacherous & life threatening. – Lt. Matt Miller #DontTakeToTheSea
Read: https://t.co/1YnxSI64tZ @USEmbassyHaiti pic.twitter.com/chkBOwu2aW