MIAMI – Twenty-five Cuban migrants were found Monday by U.S. authorities on a small island in the Florida Keys.
A boat captain spotted the migrants early Monday morning on Cook Island, near Big Pine Key, and reported the fact to authorities, said Becky Herrin, the spokesperson for the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office.
The migrants, who were all in good health, were turned over to Customs and Border Protection authorities at Dolphin Marina on Little Torch Key.
Cubans who set foot on U.S. soil receive favorable treatment under the 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act and the so-called “wet foot, dry foot” policy, thereby being allowed to remain in this country, while those who are intercepted before they reach the U.S. coast are repatriated to the communist island.
Last Saturday, the U.S. Coast Guard intercepted a group of 26 Cubans – seven of whom had bullet wounds – on a raft near the Florida coast.
According to the Coast Guard, so far during the current fiscal year, which began last Oct. 1, 2,562 Cubans have been intercepted in the Florida Strait, 269 of them during February.
Uncertainty about possible changes in U.S. immigration policy toward Cuba has spurred sharply higher illegal migration from the island since the process of normalizing bilateral relations was launched in December 2014.
During the past fiscal year, more than 43,000 Cubans arrived in the United States, a 77 percent increase over the previous fiscal year.