Cuban & Haitian Immigrants Flood Florida on Self-Made Boats to Escape Communist Governance
Over the last few days, there has been a flurry of immigrants from Cuba and Haiti arriving in Florida, straining the resources of immigration officials.
More than 500 Cubans arrived in a group of sparsely inhabited islands off Key West since Friday, according to the Miami Herald. So many landed that the federal government was forced to close the Dry Tortugas National Park on Sunday. At the same time, 160 migrants different arrived by boats in other parts of the Florida Keys over the New Year’s Day weekend, officials said. On Monday, 30 more people in two new groups of migrants were found in the Middle Keys.
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The situation is frustrating local officials. Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay issued a statement Monday, calling the flood of migrants camped on the sides of the Keys’ only major highway a “federal failure” that is responsible for “creating a humanitarian crisis.”
“Refugee arrivals require a lot of resources from the Sheriff’s Office as we help our federal law enforcement partners ensure the migrants are in good health and safe. This shows a lack of a working plan by the federal government to deal with a mass migration issue that was foreseeable.”
A group waited by U.S. 1 on the Middle Keys island of Duck Key on Monday morning. By noon, they told the Miami Herald they had been waiting to be picked up by U.S. Border Patrol agents since arriving in two rustic vessels at 2:30 a.m.
Members of the groups told the Miami Herald that they began planning their trek about two months ago, and some mentioned how they built their vessel, consisting of welded-together fuel drums, in a wooded area away from the eyes of the Communist Cuban regime. The only available navigation was the de facto leader of the groups, 22-year-old Jorge Yunier Cepa Sanchez, who had a compass.
The group risked their lives to make their escape, something that Coast Guard Rear Adm. Brendan McPherson, director of Homeland Security Task Force-Southeast, made clear in a tweet, where he discouraged traveling by sea.
“Irregular, illegal maritime migration is always dangerous and very often deadly. #DontTakeToTheSeas,”
Eventually, some group members were picked up at 12:30 p.m., and the rest were retrieved by 3:15, over 12 hours after arriving. In the meantime, multiple Floridians had brought migrants food and drink, including those who immigrated to the state similarly.
Multiple cruise vessels in the area have come across and rescued refugees floating in the ocean in attempts to reach Florida as well.
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Staff on a Celebrity Beyond ship headed toward Fort Lauderdale rescued 19 people from a sub-par boat on Monday and provided them food, shelter, and medical services, the ship’s Captain said in a video on Instagram on Tuesday.
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“We are grateful for our crew’s quick action and the lives saved as a result.” Celebrity Cruises told ABC News.
Crew members from the Carnival Celebration ha noticed five people about 29 miles northwest of Cuba and stopped to help them, company spokesperson Matt Lupoli informed ABC News in a statement. These are not isolated incidents; along with record amounts of crossings over the US Southern border, U.S. Border Patrol and Coast Guard crews patrolling South Florida and the Keys have been experiencing the most significant escalation of migrations by boat in nearly a decade. According to The AP, they’ve reported hundreds of interceptions in recent months, mostly of people from Cuba and Haiti.
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