The U.S. Coast Guard repatriated 153 Cuban migrants to Bahia de Cabañas, Cuba, from Key West on Wednesday.
The group did not include the 21 Cuban migrants who climbed a lighthouse in the Florida Keys on May 20. An evidentiary hearing to determine their fate was set for Thursday by a Miami federal judge.
The crew of the Coast Guard cutter Kathleen Moore carried 78 migrants, and the Raymond Evans was used to repatriate the other 75 migrants. The repatriations are drawn from eight separate migrant interdictions at sea within the last week in the south Florida Straits, according to the Coast Guard.
The numbers of Cuban migrants attempting such voyages have increased dramatically recently, with 673 Cubans taking to the sea in May, a jump of 155-percent compared to May 2015. In addition, since Oct. 1, at least 4,176 Cubans have attempted to illegally migrate to the U.S. via sea craft compared to 4,473 in all of 2015.
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“Immigration policies have not changed, and we urge people not to take to the ocean in unseaworthy vessels,” said Capt. Mark Gordon, chief of enforcement for the Coast Guard 7th District in a release.