Cuban migrant crisis in the Florida Keys: County police say they face a “huge problem”

A group of Cubans in the Keys (Pedro Portal/Miami Herald via AP) (Pedro Portal/)

At least 500 migrants They have arrived in small boats to the Florida Keys in recent days, a wave that the local police department called this Monday a “crisis.”

Economic hardships, food shortages and runaway inflation in Cuba and other parts of Caribbean they are fueling the most recent migration wave. Over the weekend, 300 migrants arrived in the sparsely populated Dry Tortugas National Park, about 70 miles (110 kilometers) west of Key West. The park was closed so police and medical personnel could assess the migrants before taking them to Key West, the park tweeted.

Separately, 160 migrants arrived by boat in other parts of the Florida Keys on New Year’s weekend, authorities said. On Monday, 30 people in two new groups of migrants were found in the Middle Keys.

In a press release, Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay criticized the federal government’s response to the increase in migrant arrivals, saying they are putting pressure on local resources. Border Patrol told the police department that the federal response to some of the migrant arrivals would have to wait a day, according to the news release.

Members of two groups of Cuban migrants from Matanzas, Cuba, stand in the sun on the side of US 1 in the Middle Keys island Duck Key, Fla., on Monday, Jan. 2, 2023. They said they have been standing there waiting to be picked up by US Border Patrol agents since arriving in two rustic vessels.  (Pedro Portal/Miami Herald via AP)
A group of Cuban migrants gather near a road on Duck Key Island on Monday (Pedro Portal/Miami Herald via AP) (Pedro Portal/)

“Refugee arrivals require a lot of police department resources in helping our federal law enforcement partners to ensure migrants are healthy and safe,” said Ramsay, whose department has jurisdiction over the Florida Keys. “This shows the lack of a federal government roadmap to deal with a massive mass migration problem that was predictable.”.

Officials of the Dry Tortugas National Park anticipate that it will remain closed for several days due to the space and resources required to serve the migrants. The national park is at the southern tip of the US mainland and attracts scuba divers and snorkelers for its coral reefs, nesting sea turtles, tropical fish and shipwrecks.

“As in other parts of the Florida Keys, there has been an increase in the arrival of people from Cuba by boat to the islands of Dry Tortugas National Park recently in the park,” according to a news release from the National Park Service.

A group of Cuban migrants stand in the sun on the side of US 1 in the Middle Keys island of Duck Key, Fla., Monday Jan. 2, 2023. (Pedro Portal/Miami Herald via AP)
(Pedro Portal/Miami Herald via AP) (Pedro Portal/)

In addition to the arrivals at the national park over the weekend, 160 more migrants arrived in the Middle and Upper Keys. At least 88 of the migrants are from Cuba, the Customs and Border Protection office tweeted.

Border Patrol and Coast Guard teams patrolling South Florida and the Keys have experienced largest increase in boat migrations in nearly a decadewith hundreds of interceptions in recent months, mainly of people from Cuba and Haiti.

(With information from AP)

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