Florida Braces For Immigrants From Cuba After Castro’s Death

The Coast Guard expects that Florida will see a large number of immigrants leaving Cuba soon.

The number of Cuban immigrants trying to reach U.S. soil began surging when the United States announced it was resuming diplomatic relations with Cuba.

But officials with the U.S. Coast Guard’s 7th District said they’re not gearing up for any immediate, large-scale group of immigrants from the island nation only 90 miles from Key West following the announcement that Fidel Castro died on Friday night.

Cuba   immigrants

“We’re going to continue doing the job we’ve been doing,” Petty Officer Jonathan Lally said Saturday morning. He said that includes routine patrols in the Florida Straits.

Earlier this week, the Coast Guard estimated that 598 Cubans have attempted to illegally immigrants to the United States since Oct. 1. During fiscal year 2016, 7,411 Cubans have attempted to “illegally migrate via the sea” compared to 4,473 in fiscal year 2015. The numbers represent the number of Cuban migrants who were captured, intercepted or chased away by the Coast Guard.

Coast Guard officials say the increase in Cuban migrants was prompted by rumor that the so-called wet foot-dry foot policy, which usually shields Cubans from deportation if they reach U.S. shore, might end.

Since 1966, the Cuban Adjustment Act has virtually guaranteed path to legal residency and eventual citizenship. Over the years, hundreds of thousands of Cubans have taken perilous raft trips to Florida and land journeys through Central America and Mexico with the knowledge that they would not be deported.

 immigrants headed from Cuba to Florida

 

On Saturday, officials in Monroe County, Florida – home to Key West – said they’re monitoring the immigrants situation in Cuba following Castro’s death. Emergency Management Director Marty Senterfitt said so far there are no indications of mass migration and no expectation that they will occur.

In neighboring Miami-Dade County – with its large Cuban-American community – Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez said he has no plans to activate the emergency operations center.

Some quotes used in the story were provided by ASSOCIATED PRESS.

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Jim Williams is the Washington Bureau Chief, Digital Director as well as the Director of Special Projects for Genesis Communications. He is starting his third year as part of the team. This is Williams 40th year in the media business, and in that time he has served in a number of capacities. He is a seven time Emmy Award winning television producer, director, writer and executive. He has developed four regional sports networks, directed over 2,000 live sporting events including basketball, football, baseball hockey, soccer and even polo to name a few sports. Major events include three Olympic Games, two World Cups, two World Series, six NBA Playoffs, four Stanley Cup Playoffs, four NCAA Men’s National Basketball Championship Tournaments (March Madness), two Super Bowl and over a dozen college bowl games. On the entertainment side Williams was involved s and directed over 500 concerts for Showtime, Pay Per View and MTV Networks.