Coast Guard repatriates 70 Cuban migrants

Coast Guard Cutter Richard EtheridgeMIAMI — The Coast Guard has repatriated 70 Cuban migrants to Bahia de Cabañas, Cuba, since Saturday.

The Coast Guard Cutter Richard Etheridge crew repatriated 23 Cuban migrants Saturday; the Coast Guard Cutter Raymond Evans crew repatriated 21 Cuban migrants Tuesday and another 26 Cuban migrants Friday.

These repatriations are a result of four separate at-sea migrant interdictions in the South Florida Straits. In each instance, the Coast Guard helped secure the U.S. border and prevented these sea voyages from ending in tragedy.

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

“Safety of life at sea is paramount,” said Captain Mark Gordon, chief of enforcement for the Coast Guard 7th District. “Every effort is made to rescue persons embarked in unseaworthy craft or otherwise in peril from the sea, regardless of the nationality or other circumstances of the migrants. The Coast Guard and our partner agencies continue to diligently patrol the waters around the United States to deter illegal migrant activity.”

The Coast Guard has observed a steady increase in illegal maritime migration attempts to the Southeastern U.S. from Cuba. The Coast Guard 7th District estimates that 7,411 Cubans attempted to illegally migrate via the sea in fiscal year 2016 compared to 4,473 in fiscal year 2015. These numbers represent the total number of at-sea interdictions, landings and disruptions in the Florida Straits, the Caribbean and Atlantic.

The cutters are 154-foot fast response cutters. The Coast Guard Cutter Richard Etheridge is homeported in Miami and the Coast Guard Cutter Raymond Evans is homeported in Key West.

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