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Coast Guard returns more than 300 migrants to Cuba over weekend

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The U.S. Coast Guard repatriated 319 Cuban migrants intercepted at sea over the weekend, according to the agency.

The Coast Guard stopped 185 Cubans on Friday, 94 on Saturday and 40 on Sunday. In total, the service says it has intercepted 921 Cubans since Oct. 1.

The interdictions mean the Coast Guard has started fiscal 2023 on track to outpace the 6,182 repatriations carried out the previous year.

The news comes as thousands of Cubans seek to leave the island, which is going through its deepest economic crisis since the so-called special period after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.

Cubans had historically traveled to the United States by boat, but economic, diplomatic and political considerations have changed migration patterns from Cuba to the United States.

According to numbers from the Department of Homeland Security, more than 220,000 Cubans were encountered on the Southwest border in fiscal 2022, compared to the 6,182 encountered at sea.

Still, the rise in Cubans attempting the relatively short but markedly dangerous sea voyage rose sharply with the end of the pandemic.

Administration officials warned that Cubans are now treated the same as migrants from other countries, since the repeal of the “wet foot, dry foot” policy that gave Cubans who landed on U.S. territory a fast track to permanent residency.

“The policy commonly known as Wet Foot, Dry Foot, was repealed in 2017,” said Lt. Matt Miller, of the Coast Guard’s seventh district. 

“[Homeland Security] Secretary [Alejandro] Mayorkas stated in a press conference last year that folks illegally migrating to the U.S. by sea will not be allowed to stay. Choose a safe and legal means of coming to the U.S.,” added Miller.

Tags Coast Guard Cuba Cuba migrants migrants
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