Cuban migrants landed in Key West on New Year’s Day, and now face a return

Gwen Filosa
·1 min read

Twelve Cuban migrants landed in Key West late New Year’s Day in a homemade boat that U.S. Border Patrol agents said was in poor condition.

“Their vessel was overloaded and unsafe for travel,” Chief Patrol Agent Thomas G. Martin, of the U.S. Border Patrol’s Miami Sector, said on Twitter. “This type of journey from Cuba is dangerous!”

The 12 men made landfall in Key West at about 11:30 p.m. Jan. 1. They were taken into custody by Border Patrol.

“The subjects were processed for removal proceedings and turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement Enforcement Removal Operations,” said Border Patrol Agent Adam Hoffner.

No injuries were reported.

“Thankfully, none of the Cuban migrants suffered any injuries during this event,” Hoffner said in an email Monday. “These homemade vessels will often suffer engine failures and will begin to take on water while at sea, putting the lives of migrants at risk.”

Until early 2017, people from Cuba who landed on U.S. soil would be allowed to stay in the country and apply for permanent residency after one year. Those caught at sea, though, were taken back to Cuba.

But the Obama administration ended that protocol, commonly called “wet-foot, dry-foot,” because it had reestablished diplomatic ties with the Castro regime.

It was one of the administration’s final foreign policy decisions.

Cubans are now subject to the same immigration and visa rules as people from other nations.