Coast Guard repatriates 121 Cuban migrants in past week

A group of Cuban migrants are discovered south of Key West, Florida, Sep. 13, 2015. The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Mohawk interdicted the group of migrants who were later repatriated back to Cuba. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

A group of Cuban migrants are discovered south of Key West, Florida, Sep. 13, 2015. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

MIAMI — The Coast Guard has repatriated 121 Cuban migrants to Bahia de Cabañas, Cuba, within the past week.

These repatriations are a result of nine separate interdictions at sea in the south Florida Straits. These events all consisted of Cubans attempting to illegally enter the United States on unseaworthy vessels commonly referred to as “rustics” or “chugs.” In these instances, the Coast Guard not only helped secure the U.S. border, but they also prevented these perilous sea voyages from ending in tragedy.

Coast Guard medium endurance (210 and 270 feet) cutters like Cutter Mohawk, along with numerous other Coast Guard patrol boats and aircraft, aggressively patrol the Florida Straits to detect and deter illegal and unsafe maritime migration. Safety of life at sea is always the Coast Guard’s top priority.

Once aboard a Coast Guard cutter, all migrants receive food, water, shelter and basic medical attention.

“Despite the recent steps to begin normalizing ties with Cuba, the Coast Guard’s missions and operations in the southeast remain unchanged,” said Capt. Mark Fedor, Coast Guard 7th District chief of response. “Our immigration policies remain the same, and we continue to strongly discourage those attempting to illegally enter the country by taking to the sea.  There are legal ways to enter this country and this is not it.”

Coast Guard assets involved in these interdictions were:

Coast Guard Cutter Mohawk, a 270-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Key West, Florida

Coast Guard Cutter Shrike, a 87-foot patrol boat homeported in Cape Canaveral, Florida

Coast Guard Cutters Raymond Evans and Kathleen Moore, 154-foot fast response cutters homeported in Key West

Coast Guard Station Key West

Coast Guard Station Islamorada, Florida

Coast Guard Station Marathon, Florida

Since Oct. 1, the Coast Guard 7th District estimates that 4,308 Cubans have attempted to illegally migrate via the sea. These numbers represent the total amount of at-sea interdictions, landings and disruptions in the Florida Straits, the Caribbean and Atlantic.

For more information on how to legally immigrate to the U.S., call U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) at 1-800-375-5283 or visit the USCIS website atwww.uscis.gov.

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