EFE (via 14ymedio) Miami , 16 January 2017 – A total of 71 Cubans were deported this Sunday after being detained in the Florida Straits seeking to enter the country days before the U.S government announced the change in immigration policy toward Cubans, the Coast Guard announced on Monday.
The immigrants were transferred to Bahía Cabañas, in Cuba, after being intercepted on five different operations between January 4th and 6th, dates prior to the White House announcing the end of the “wet foot/dry foot” policy.
A statement by the Coast Guard said they carried out these operations in their function to protect the American border and to “prevent these trips by sea from ending up in tragedy.”
“We discourage anyone from going out to sea and attempting to reach U.S soil illegally. You are risking your lives with little chances of success,” said Captain Mark Gordon, of the Coast Guard Seventh District, who emphasized that navigating the Florida Straits could be “extremely dangerous,” especially with the bad weather currently in the area.
Gordon was categorical in saying the Coast Guard would continue these operations to “detain those who initiate the illegal, foolish and unsafe journey through the Florida Straits.”
He explained that once aboard the Coast Guard boat, the immigrants received basic medical attention, food and water.
Since October 1, 2016, when the current fiscal year began, at least 1,893 Cubans have attempted to enter the United States by sea.
On 12 January, the U.S. government announced the repeal of the “wet foot/ dry foot” policy,” which for 20 years granted preferential immigration status to Cubans able to reach U.S. soil, and granted them residency status after one year.
On the contrary, those intercepted at sea, even if only a few yards from shore, were returned to Cuba.
Due to fear of this policy ending there has been a notable increase of Cubans entering the U.S. in recent months, by land across U.S.-Mexico border, as well as by sea.
Last fiscal year, between October 1,, 2015 and September 30, 2016, 7,411 Cubans attempted to reach the U.S coast by sea, a significant increase from the 4, 473 that attempted the same in the 2015 fiscal year.
Translated by Chavely Garcia