Cubans Arrested After Scrambling Onshore Near Miami

Zachary Stieber
By Zachary Stieber
October 8, 2018US News

A wooden boat from Cuba approached the coast of Florida on Oct. 7, before the people on board jumped off, swam to land, scrambled ashore, and hid.

It wasn’t immediately clear how many people had been on the boat. Approximately 27 illegal aliens were on the boat, with 15 being arrested as of Sunday night, according to NBC. Another count had 20 people on board.

The U.S. Border Patrol said that what happened was a “maritime smuggling event” and said the arrested Cubans would be transported to the Dania Beach Border Patrol station for processing and removal.

Pictures showed Border Patrol officers giving medical care to the Cubans on the beach.

Juan Montoya, who was on the beach when the Cubans came ashore the beach in Virginia Key, told Local 10 that they told him they’d built the wooden vessel they traveled in before launching it and heading to the United States.

“One of them told me he was there working on it for three weeks at his house,” Montoya said.

‘Wet Foot, Dry Foot’

The policy for people fleeing the regime in communist Cuba used to allow Cubans to stay in the United States if they reached land without being detained.

President Barack Obama stopped that special status, known as “wet foot, dry foot” and created by President Bill Clinton in 1995, just before leaving office.

“Effective immediately, Cuban nationals who attempt to enter the United States illegally and do not qualify for humanitarian relief will be subject to removal,” Obama said in a statement.

“By taking this step, we are treating Cuban migrants the same way we treat migrants from other countries.”

According to the Border Patrol, approximately 189 Cubans tried to illegally immigrate to the United States between October 2017 and July 2018. According to the Tampa Bay Times, there’s been a dramatic drop of Cubans approved for refugee status at the American embassy in Havana, from more than 1,000 a month in late 2017 to fewer than 400 a month as of September.

The large drop was attributed to reduced staffing at the embassy in the wake of mysterious health attacks on embassy personnel.

Previous Arrests

The last incident involving Cuban immigrants happened in July, according to a search of Border Patrol press releases.

In a July release, the office said the U.S. Coast Guard, in conjunction with the Border Patrol and other agencies, intercepted a “rustic vessel” with 28 Cubans, and repatriated them to Cuba.

“U.S. immigration policies have not changed and we urge people not to take to the ocean in unseaworthy vessels,” said Capt. Jason Ryan, the chief of enforcement for the Coast Guard’s 7th District, in a statement.

“People aboard are putting their lives at risk attempting illegal voyages in homemade vessels without proper navigation or safety equipment.”

“The Coast Guard with our partner agencies will continue to patrol vigilantly to rescue and repatriate undocumented migrants who take to the sea,” added Ryan.

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