When the U.S. Coast Guard repatriated 52 Cuban migrants in early May, the agency also noted a steady increase in attempts by Cuban migrants to reach South Florida by boat.
According to figures provided by the Coast Guard itself, at least 3,563 Cuban migrants have been spotted or intercepted at sea, or have reached South Florida since Oct. 1, the start of the federal fiscal year.
This suggests that if the Cuban migrant flow by sea continues at the same pace, total interceptions, sightings or arrivals during fiscal year 2015 — 4,476 — may be surpassed before the end of the current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.
The increase in the flow of Cuban migrants arriving on the beach or who have been intercepted or sighted at sea is something of significant interest not only for the federal government but for South Florida communities whose leaders worry about the fiscal impact on schools and emergency services.
Federal officials have said the number of Cuban immigrants in general — by sea, land and air — began to increase considerably after the Dec. 17, 2014 order by President Barack Obama for the restoration of diplomatic relations with Cuba, a historic shift in policy toward the island.
Since then, many Cuban migrants interviewed by el Nuevo Herald have said the change has instilled fear among Cubans on the island who think the Cuban Adjustment Act and the wet foot/dry foot policy are about to disappear.
Raúl Suniel, Cuban rafter
“There is a great number of Cuban boats sailing toward the United States all the time,” said Raúl Suniel, one of the Cuban rafters interviewed in Miami shortly after arriving last year. “Every day many people set out on ocean voyages because they are afraid that the Cuban Adjustment Act will be revoked.”
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