State Watch

National park closed following arrival of 300 migrants

The National Park Service (NPS) closed a park in the Florida Keys on Monday after about 300 migrants arrived there over the weekend.

The temporary shutdown at Dry Tortugas National Park, about 70 miles from Key West, Fla., could stretch through the week as police and emergency responders assist the migrants, park officials said.

“The closure, which is expected to last several days, is necessary for the safety of visitors and staff because of the resources and space needed to attend to the migrants,” the NPS said in a Monday statement.

Across the entire Florida Keys, at least 500 migrants arrived over the holiday weekend. The recent wave of migration is being spurred by economic turmoil in Cuba and other parts of the Caribbean.

Among that total, the NPS said roughly 300 migrants arrived by boat and landed on islands located within Dry Tortugas National Park.

Park officials are providing food, water and medical attention to the migrants until authorities with the Department of Homeland Security take over their cases.

In Monroe County, which encompasses Key West, Sheriff Rick Ramsay said the U.S. Border Patrol would not respond with resources for some migrant landings until Tuesday, which he said was aggravating a “mass migration crisis” on the islands.

“This shows a lack of a working plan by the federal government to deal with a mass migration issue that was foreseeable,” Ramsay said in a Facebook statement.

The latest wave of migrant boat landings in the Florida Keys is one of the largest encounters the U.S. Border Patrol and the Coast Guard have faced in the region in almost a decade.

In South Florida, Border Patrol agents have taken more than 2,000 migrants, mostly from Cuba, into custody since Oct. 1, according to local radio station WLRN.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Tags Dry Tortuga National Park Florida Key West migrants Rick Ramsay

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