On Thursday, the Coast Guard returned 177 more Cuban migrants who had been apprehended at sea off the coast of Florida to the island, while roughly a dozen Haitians swam ashore in Miami.
According to a Coast Guard press statement, the Cuban migrants were all separated from one another and caught off the coast earlier this month. Two Coast Guard cutters returned them to their home country.
25 Haitians who were sailing from Port-de-Paix, Haiti, landed on a small island called Virginia Key and were taken into the custody of US Customs and Border Protection, according to agency spokesman Michael Selva.
Selva claimed that some of the migrants were aided ashore by helpful beachgoers on the island using jet skis and small boats.
Federal agents were processing dozens of other migrants who were still on the sailboat while they were at sea, which usually results in their return to their country of origin.
As inflation climbs and the economy deteriorates in their home countries, an increasing number of migrants from Cuba and Haiti have tried the treacherous Florida Straits crossing in recent months to enter the Keys Island chain and other regions of the state illegally.
The increase has been particularly noticeable among Cubans. According to a news release, the Coast Guard has stopped more than 4,900 Cuban migrants at sea since October 1, 2022, compared to more over 6,100 Cubans stopped overall for fiscal 2022, which concluded on September 30.
The most recent returns and landings occurred just after President Joe Biden’s administration implemented a new policy to start sending back illegal immigrants from Venezuela, Cuba, Haiti, and Nicaragua at the Texas border.
Additionally, the administration is proposing humanitarian parole for up to 30,000 citizens of those four nations each month in exchange for an online application, payment of airfare, and the discovery of a financial sponsor.
Illegal immigrants who enter the country and don’t go back home right away will no longer be eligible for the new parole. US authorities are hoping that by providing a safer substitute and a route to residency, this will discourage marine landings.
A few first Cuban applicants had already been approved under the new parole, according to a statement issued on Wednesday by the US Embassy in Havana, Cuba, which recently resumed processing migrant visas.
In recent days, prospective applicants have swarmed to an immigration office in Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, to apply for passports required for the US program.
Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Mark Cobb said in a statement that with the new legal pathways available for migrants “we urge all people to use the safe and legal means available to travel to the United States. Don’t put your life at risk by taking to the sea when you don’t have to.”