The U.S. Border Patrol said it responded to more than 12 separate migrant landings in the Florida Keys since Wednesday, with more than six groups arriving on Thursday, and possibly four or more boats on Friday.
On Friday morning, Walter Slosar, chief Border Patrol agent for the agency’s Miami operations, which include the Keys, said on Twitter that a total of 108 people landed along the island chain in a span of two days. On Friday, Monroe County Sheriff’s Office online calls for service records show at least four more groups arrived between 3 a.m. and noon on Friday.
Those landings happened on Big Pine Key in the Lower Keys, the Middle Keys city of Marathon and an undisclosed location, the records show.
The people are arriving on the types of homemade rustic vessels that have become common sights along the Keys shorelines for the past two years, as well as sturdier fishing boats.
The Keys and South Florida are experiencing an influx in migrants from both Cuba and Haiti, but that many migrant arrivals in one day is unusual.
The landings happened in various parts of the island chain, said Adam Hoffner, division chief for U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Miami operations. All of the migrants are Cuban, he said.
It had already been a busy week for the Border Patrol, Coast Guard and other agencies tasked with policing migrants in the Keys, with more than 60 people from Cuba arriving last weekend.
The exodus from Cuba and Haiti has also kept the U.S. Coast Guard the busiest it’s been in years patrolling the Florida Straits.
Since October, the agency has stopped 3,739 Cubans and 6,534 Haitians at sea who were trying to reach South Florida. Almost all have been returned to their homelands.
Both island nations are experiencing deteriorating economic and political conditions, and Haiti is going through a period of increasing gang violence that has contributed to the largest maritime migration away from its shores since 2004.