Continuing an uptick in illegal migration across the Florida Straits, nine Cubans landed in the Florida Keys around 6 a.m. Monday — bringing to 51 the number of such immigrants who have made land in Monroe County since Friday.
The nine said they were on the water in the Florida Straits for two days, said Jeffrey Stalnaker, a patrol agent in charge with the U.S. Border Patrol in Marathon.
He said they arrived on a fishing boat around mile marker 81 of U.S. 1 in Islamorada and there were no medical emergencies. They reported themselves to staff at a Dion's Quik Mart and were taken to Marathon for processing and will be released to face an immigration judge at a later date.
Thursday, 23 Cubans arrived at Smathers Beach in Key West. Friday in Tavernier, 12 migrants arrived on a sailboat and seven more landed on a small island off Geiger Key in the Lower Keys.
Under U.S. policy, Cuban migrants who make land can stay under the wet-foot, dry-foot policy. They also are eligible for various government benefits. U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, who represents the Keys, and Sen. Marco Rubio both introduced legislation to cut those back but where the bills are headed isn't clear.
The Border Patrol and U.S. Coast Guard both stress that the trip in rustic vessels across the Florida Straits is risky and shouldn't be made because they put lives in danger.