US repatriates nearly 60 Cubans who attempted ocean crossing

Washington, Jumada II 15, 1437, March 24, 2016, SPA — The United States on Wednesday repatriated 58 Cubans who had attempted illegal ocean crossings into the US in separate efforts in the last week, the US Coast Guard said, according to dpa.

The Cuban migrants were repatriated to Bahia de Cabanas, Cuba. The US Coast Guard intercepted the Cubans in the Florida Straits on seven different occasions during the last week.

“Immigration policies have not changed and we urge people not to take to the ocean in unseaworthy vessels. It is illegal and extremely dangerous,” Coast Guard Captain Mark Gordon,” said in a statement.

The Coast Guard said it has seen an steady increase in the illegal migration attempts from Cuba in the nearly 15 months since the Obama administration announced a normalization of relations with the communist island approximately 145 kilometres south of Florida.

The repatriation follows US President Barack Obama’s historic visit to Cuba earlier this week, the first US president to do so in nearly 90 years.

The Coast Guard estimates that 2,562 Cubans have attempted the ocean crossing since October 1.

Under current US policy, any Cuban who reaches US soil is allowed to stay and pursue permanent residency. Those intercepted at sea by the US Coast Guard are sent home, leading many to attempt the arduous land route through third countries.

00:47 LOCAL TIME 21:47 GMT