Cuban migrants arrive in Miami Beach near the Deauville Hotel, and more in the Florida Keys | National
MIAMI — Twelve Cuban migrants arrived in a homemade boat on the sands of an old Miami Beach hotel Thursday night, according to Border Patrol.
The landing was one of nearly a dozen this week in South Florida – mostly in the Florida Keys – as the region continues to be the destination for those taking part in Cuba’s largest sea exodus in nearly of a decade.
The boat arrived at 7:30 p.m. in Miami Beach and the people were taken into custody, said Adam Hoffner, Miami Operations Division Chief of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. They landed around 67th Street and Collins Avenue near the vacant Deauville Hotel which is to be demolished.
The Border Patrol has encountered nearly 1,000 Cuban migrants since Oct. 1 – the start of the exercise. And the Coast Guard intercepted 1,374 people fleeing Cuba sailing through the Florida Straits during the same period.
At this rate, the number of Cubans intercepted at sea will double the amount of the previous fiscal year, which was already the highest in almost eight years.
Since the end of the “wet feet, dry feet” policy that allowed those who reached US soil to remain in the country in 2017, anyone arrested at sea or on land is supposed to be returned to Cuba. But so many people are arriving lately that immigration officials are overwhelmed, and most of those not caught at sea have been handed over to family members and ordered to report to immigration and customs officers.
Most of those arrested at sea are placed on a coastguard cutter and returned to Cuba. The Coast Guard said Friday it had just returned 68 people to Cuba who were arrested in multiple incidents off the Keys between Monday and Tuesday.
Border Patrol said 42 people from Cuba, including 15 children, were stranded on an island in the Dry Tortugas on Thursday and had to be rescued.
On Thursday morning, 18 men and four women from Cuba arrived in Grassy Key in the Middle Keys on a small wooden sailboat. One of the men sustained head injuries and was airlifted by helicopter to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami.
His status on Friday was not immediately available.
Between Sunday and Tuesday, at least 110 Cuban migrants arrived in multiple landings across the Keys, according to Border Patrol.
Also last weekend, the Coast Guard stopped a boat off Palm Beach in what authorities said was an attempt to smuggle people. Two people aboard the center console vessel were arrested for smuggling. Four Cubans, two Chinese citizens, one Jamaican and one from the Bahamas were also on board, the Border Patrol said in a statement.
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