As many as 40 Cuban migrants arrived on Sugarloaf Key Monday night. The major landing combined with three other migrant arrivals since Sunday means that in less than two days, at least 60 refugees from Cuba arrived in the Keys.
U.S. Border Patrol officials did not have many details about the Sugarloaf Key landing Monday night -- only that a large group came ashore. Dispatch conversations among first responders heard on scanners indicate the group includes at least one four-year-old child.
On Sunday, July 17, 13 men arrived in Key Largo on a “single-engine rustic vessel,” said Supervisory U.S. Border Patrol Agent Adam Hoffner. The men told Border Patrol agents they spent four days at sea.
Monday morning, around 5 a.m., nine Cuban men arrived at the Ocean Reef Club community in north Key Largo, also in a single-engine rustic craft. They told Border Patrol agents that their journey from Cuba took six days.
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Around 10 a.m. Monday, three men came to shore at the Middle Keys community of Key Colony Beach.
Since all the migrants made it to dry land, they will likely be allowed to stay in the U.S. and apply for permanent residency after a year. U.S. policy toward Cuba considers all arriving migrants refugees. Under the so-called “wet-foot, dry-foot” change made in 1995 to the Cuban Adjustment Act, all Cubans leaving their homeland who are stopped at sea are sent back. All who step foot on U.S. soil can stay.
The number of Cubans fleeing their country has spiked recently following thawing diplomatic ties last year between the Obama administration and the Castro regime. Many Cubans fear that with strengthening relations between the neighboring countries, the logic at the root of wet-foot, dry-foot no longer applies and the policy may soon end.