14 more Cuban migrants land in the Keys
The group arrived in Islamorada on Tuesday
They spent four or five days on a "rustic vessel"
BY DAVID GOODHUE
A group of 14 Cuban migrants came ashore in Islamorada and 13 landed on
Ballast Key off Key West on Tuesday morning, according to the U.S.
The Upper Keys group landed near the Morada Bay Resort, on the bay side
of U.S. 1 at mile marker 81.6, around 8 a.m. A "concerned citizen"
noticed the 14 men and called the Monroe County Sheriff's Office, said
Supervisory Border Patrol Agent Adam Hoffner.
The men told Border Patrol agents that they traveled for four or five
days on a "homemade rustic vessel." The boat's engine failed at sea,
leaving the men stranded in the open ocean while they made repairs.
"Homemade vessels such as this, often suffer from engine of other types
of mechanical failures putting the migrants at risk," Hoffner said in an
e-mail. "The vessels also lack appropriate safety equipment and
Hoffner said his agency regularly receives both confirmed and
unconfirmed reports of migrants drowning at sea on their way to the
Under the 1995 changes to the Cuban Adjustment Act, migrants from Cuba
who set foot on dry land in the United States can stay here and apply
for permanent residency after a year. The policy is known as wet-foot,
The Lower Keys group — all men — landed on Ballast Key, part of a group
of small islands west of Key West known as the "Mule Keys." They were
reportedly in good health. They said they were at sea in a single-engine
fishing boat for two days.
It has been a busy year for the Border Patrol, U.S. Customs and Border
Protection, the U.S. Coast Guard and other agencies responsible for
keeping an eye out for migrants and human smugglers. Migrant arrivals
and interdictions are up sharply in the wake of thawing relations
between the United States and the Castro regime. Many Cubans fear the
wet-foot, dry-foot policy will soon be repealed, and they want to leave
the island before that happens.
On Friday, a group of 21 migrants climbed onto the American Shoal
lighthouse off Sugarloaf Key after being confronted by a Coast Guard
boat that morning. They eventually came down off the 109-foot structure
later in the afternoon and were taken aboard an undisclosed Coast Guard
cutter to be sent back to Cuba.
However, an injunction was filed in U.S. District Court Tuesday by the
non-profit group Movimiento Democracia on behalf of some of the
migrants' families living in Florida arguing the Cubans made it to the
United States under wet-foot, dry-foot.
Also last Friday, nine Cubans arrived in a "single-engine rustic boat"
at the Dry Tortugas National Park about 70 miles from Key West. The
eight adult men and one woman arrived about 7:30 p.m., Hoffner said.
They told Border Patrol agents they spent two days at sea. The migrants
were first picked up by the Coast Guard, and it is not yet clear if they
will be allowed to stay.
Source: 14 more Cuban migrants land in the Keys | In Cuba Today -