A Key West-based Coast Guard cutter stopped almost 30 people trying to reach the United States from Cuba by boat in the Florida Straits between Saturday and Monday.
All but one were taken back to Cuba on Thursday aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Isaac Mayo, according to a Coast Guard press release. One man was transferred to Miami-Dade police because there was an open warrant for his arrest on a grand theft auto charge, the release states
The Cutter Kathleen Moore stopped 19 people Saturday about 20 miles north of Cuba. They were first spotted aboard a "rustic vessel" by a Coast Guard HC-144 airplane, according to the release.
On Monday, the Kathleen Moore stopped a 25-foot vessel with 10 people on board about 58 miles northeast of Matanzas.
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The number of Cubans attempting to gain entrance to the United States has dropped dramatically since the Obama administration, in its waning days, ended the policy granting people arriving from the island nation special immigration status. The "wet foot, dry foot" policy allowed those who reached land to stay and apply for permanent residency after a year. Those caught at sea, however, were taken back to Cuba.
According to the Coast Guard, which tracks migration attempts by fiscal years, the agency has stopped 144 people from Cuba trying to reach the United States by sea since Oct. 1. Between Oct. 1, 2016, and Sept. 30, 2017, fiscal year 2017, 1,951 people were stopped trying to complete the journey.
Both the Isaac Mayo and Kathleen Moore are docked at Coast Guard Station Key West.