Twelve Cuban migrants were returned to Bahia de Cabañas in Cuba on Saturday morning after being intercepted at sea, the U.S. Coast Guard announced.
The group was intercepted on Wednesday, after a Coast Guard aircraft spotted a vessel carrying 14 migrants — 10 men and four women — south of Marquesas Keys. Twelve of the migrants were moved to a Coast Guard cutter while the other two were medevaced to Key West for medical concerns.
Migrants who are intercepted by the Coast Guard receive food, water, shelter and basic medical attention before they are repatriated, officials said. The two Cubans transported for medical treatment likely will be allowed to remain in the United States due to U.S. policy known as wet-foot, dry-foot.
The number of Cubans trying to flee the island continues, even as some historic changes have taken place in the communist-ruled nation, including the restoration of diplomatic ties between Washington in Havana.
In fiscal year 2015, which ended on Sept. 30, the Coast Guard intercepted 4,462 Cubans who attempted to illegally migrate to the U.S. by sea.
"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," Capt. Mark Gordon, Coast Guard 7th District chief of response enforcement, said in a statement issued Saturday. "Migrants interdicted at sea will be returned to their country of origin in accordance with U.S. immigration laws."