MIAMI: Fifty Cubans caught trying to reach US shores in rickety vessels were repatriated this week, the Coast Guard said Wednesday.
These Cubans were rescued in five separate interventions over the past few days, it said, warning Cubans not to attempt the dangerous crossing of the shark-infested Florida Straits.
Cuban migrants, unlike those from any other nation, are allowed to stay in the United States if they reach land. But they are repatriated if picked up at sea.
Fear that this special treatment will end has triggered an increase in attempted crossings since Washington and Havana announced in December plans to restore diplomatic ties, which they did on July 20.
But the US government warns it has no plans to change its migration laws.
“Coast Guard missions and operations in the Southeast remain unchanged, including no changes to US immigration policies. The Coast Guard strongly discourages attempts to illegally enter the country by taking to the sea,” said Captain Mark Gordon of the Coast Guard.
In the fiscal year that ended in September, 4,462 Cubans tried to reach the United States by sea, compared to 3,940 in fiscal 2014, the Coast Guard said. — AFP