KEY WEST, Fla. – Seventeen Cuban migrants came ashore Sunday in Key West, where they were met by police and given breakfast, authorities said.
The group was in a rustic boat, commonly known as a “chug." They arrived at Smathers Beach shortly after sunrise, where police were waiting. News outlets reported that the wife of one officer provided the migrants with breakfast.
The Cubans will likely be returned to the communist island.
The Miami Herald reported that Cuban migration by sea has spiked this year, with the Coast Guard reporting that 838 were intercepted on such journeys during the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30.
Last year, the number was just 49.
Migration from Cuba had waned after then-President Barack Obama in 2017 ended the “wet foot, dry foot” policy in which Cubans who made it to U.S. soil were generally allowed to stay, while those stopped at sea were returned home.
Experts say the increase is due to deteriorating economic and political conditions within the island nation, including a worsening coronavirus situation.