Florida Officials Arrest 41 Cubans; Illegal Immigrants Sailed in Makeshift Boats

By Naveen Athrappully
Naveen Athrappully
Naveen Athrappully
Naveen Athrappully is a news reporter covering business and world events at The Epoch Times.
July 17, 2022 Updated: July 18, 2022

U.S. Border Patrol officials have taken into custody 41 people from Cuba who arrived on U.S. shores after traversing the Straits of Florida on makeshift rafts and rowboats.

Nine illegal immigrants were taken into custody on July 16 after arriving on Jupiter Island, north of Palm Beach County in Florida. They were caught after Border Patrol agents and local law enforcement responded to a “maritime smuggling event that made landfall in Jupiter Island,” Walter N. Slosar, the chief patrol agent of the Miami Sector, said in a July 16 post on Twitter.

The nine individuals came in a rowboat that appeared to have some weights covered in trash bags on the exterior. Later that day, 32 additional illegal immigrants who arrived in the Florida Keys in what seemed to be a makeshift boat also were taken into custody.

The latest arrests follow the deportation of 77 Cuban immigrants on July 13, who were earlier arrested in the Keys in eight separate incidents.

“Coast Guard crews maintain an active presence with air and sea assets every day through the Florida Straits to help save lives by removing people from unsafe environments,” Lt. Travis Poulos of Coast Guard District 7 said in a statement on July 13, according to the Miami Herald. “Our crews help prevent people from losing their lives in these dangerous attempts.”

Until January 2017, Cuban citizens who came to U.S. shores were allowed to stay in the country. After a year, they could apply for permanent residency.

The policy was stopped in January 2017 by President Barack Obama at the end of his term as part of an effort to improve diplomatic relations with the communist country.

At present, most Cuban illegal immigrants caught at sea or on land are deported back to their country.

Cuban Immigration

After Joe Biden became president in 2021, he undid many of President Donald Trump’s border policies, triggering a flood of illegal migration from Cuba and other countries including El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala.

In the fiscal year 2022 between October and June, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reported 578,662 encounters with illegal immigrants from these four nations, up from 88,796 in fiscal year 2020 and 481,403 in fiscal year 2021.

As for Cuban immigrants, there have been 157,339 encounters in fiscal year 2022 compared to just 7,813 in fiscal year 2020 and 26,195 in fiscal year 2021, according to CBP data.

“Just from Cuba alone, we already have more people in the last nine months than the entire Mariel boatlift. That’s just from one country—just from one country,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said in a speech on July 13.

The Mariel boatlift was a mass emigration of Cubans to the United States in 1980, between April 15 and Oct. 31.

Pointing out that countries such as Canada, Mexico, and Guatemala don’t tolerate open borders, Rubio insisted that the United States should follow a strict policy.

Naveen Athrappully is a news reporter covering business and world events at The Epoch Times.