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US Coast Guard repatriates increasing number of Cuban migrants

MIAMI, Jul 10, CMC – The United States Coast Guard says since October last year, it has been repatriating an increasing number of Cuban migrants who have been making desperate attempts via the Caribbean Sea to land on US shores.

“Since Oct. 1, at least 5,043 Cubans have attempted to illegally migrate to the US via the maritime environment compared to 4,473 in fiscal year 2015,” the Coast Guard said.

“These statistics represent the total number of at-sea interdictions, landings and disruptions in the Florida Straits, the Caribbean and Atlantic,” it added.

The US Coast Guard said that the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Kathleen Moore repatriated 50 Cuban migrants to Bahia de Cabañas, Cuba, on Tuesday.

It said the 50 migrants repatriated were a result of five separate interdictions of chugs, or rustic vessels, in the Florida Straits.

“We discourage anyone from taking to the sea and attempting to reach US soil illegally,” said Capt. Mark Gordon, chief of enforcement for the Coast Guard 7th District. “They are risking their lives with very little chance of success.

“Navigating the Florida Straits can be extremely dangerous for the unprepared on illegal voyages and often leads to injury or death,” he warned.

Earlier this month, the Coast Guard said 63 Cubans were repatriated as a result of five separate interdictions of chugs in the Florida Straits.

“We continue to stress that safety of life at sea is our utmost concern,” Gordon said. “We are especially concerned about the increase of Cuban migrants inflicting self-harm in unsuccessful attempts to reach US soil.

“We discourage anyone from taking to the sea and attempting to reach US soil illegally,” he added. “They are risking their lives with very little chance of success. The dangerous waters of the Florida Straits can be unforgiving for the unprepared on ill-advised and illegal voyages.

“Migrants who choose to board unseaworthy vessels put their lives at severe risk of injury and death,” Gordon continued. “Immigration policies have not changed, the Coast Guard’s missions have not changed. Migrants interdicted at sea will be returned to their country of origin in accordance with immigration laws.”

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