MIAMI – The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Paul Clark repatriated 59 Cuban migrants Thursday, and four Cuban migrants from the American Shoal Lighthouse case Friday, to Bahia de Cabañas, Cuba.
The 59 migrants repatriated were a result of five separate interdictions of chugs, or rustic vessels, in the Florida Straits since Saturday.
“We continue to stress that safety of life at sea is our utmost concern,” said Capt. Mark Gordon, chief of enforcement for the Coast Guard 7th District. “We are especially concerned about the increase of Cuban migrants inflicting self harm in unsuccessful attempts to reach U.S. soil. We discourage anyone from taking to the sea and attempting to reach U.S. soil illegally, they are risking their lives with very little chance of success. The dangerous waters of the Florida Straits can be unforgiving for the unprepared on ill-advised and illegal voyages. Migrants who choose to board unseaworthy vessels put their lives at severe risk of injury and death. Immigration policies have not changed, the Coast Guard’s missions have not changed; migrants interdicted at sea will be returned to their country of origin in accordance with immigration laws.”
Once aboard a Coast Guard cutter, all migrants receive food, water, shelter and medical attention.
Since Oct. 1, at least 4,886 Cubans have attempted to illegally migrate to the U.S. via the maritime environment compared to 4,473 in fiscal year 2015. These statistics represent the total number of at-sea interdictions, landings and disruptions in the Florida Straits, the Caribbean and Atlantic.
The Coast Guard Cutter Paul Clark is a 154-foot fast response cutter homeported in Miami Beach, Florida.
The 20 remaining Cuban migrants found on the American Shoal Light will be transferred to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.