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More Cubans Show Up Illegally Amidst US Thaw

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The US Coast Guard recently returned sixty-five Cuban migrants to Cuba.

News Americas, MIAMI, FL, Mon. Oct. 12, 2015: As the US government continues to soften its rules on Cuba, more and more Cubans are seeking to illegally enter the United States.

According to US Coast Guard data, in fiscal year 2015, a whopping 4,462 Cuban migrants attempted to illegally migrate to the U.S. via the sea. These numbers represent the total amount of at-sea interdictions, landings and disruptions in the Florida Straits, the Caribbean and Atlantic.

Dozens have been caught and returned, the latest was a group of 12 who were repatriated to Bahia de Cabañas, Cuba, Saturday. Some 412 Cuban migrants were returned between January and August, 2015.

About 3,900 Cubans tried to reach the country by sea during the previous fiscal year — October 1, 2013, to September 30, 2014, the Coast Guard said.

“Coast Guard missions and operations in the Southeast remain unchanged including no changes to U.S. immigration policies. The Coast Guard strongly discourages attempts to illegally enter the country by taking to the sea,” said Capt. Mark Gordon, Coast Guard 7th District chief of response enforcement. “Migrants interdicted at sea will be returned to their country of origin in accordance with U.S. immigration laws.”

Earlier this month as well, crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Raymond Evans repatriated 36 Cuban migrants from four separate migrant interdictions at sea in a span of a week.

Cuban migrant consistently try to illegally enter the United States on unseaworthy vessels commonly called “rustics” or “chugs.”

Reports indicate that many Cubans are try to enter the US as President Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro move to end more than a half-century of estranged relations. The new wave of rafters fear that the preferential immigration status for Cubans – the controversial wet foot, dry foot policy – will soon end. The policy allows Cubans who evade the Coast Guard and touch U.S. soil to get green cards after one year, sponsor their relatives back home to join them and eventually become U.S. citizens.

The Cuban government has been pushing for that policy to be repealed. Congress would need to make the change.