Key Colony Beach, a planned Middle Keys city popular with snowbirds, is usually the last place in the Keys you'd think of when it comes to border issues.
But the city of fewer than 1,000 full-time residents saw some federal action Tuesday when five Cuban migrants came ashore about 2 a.m. in a rustic green vessel sometimes called a chug. They alit at the high-end townhome complex Turtle Cays at 821 W. Ocean Drive.
"The [police] officer was on the Sadowsky Causeway and the men came up to him," says Police Chief Kris DiGiovanni. "They were probably wet; you pretty much know they just got here. If they don't speak English and they don't have a car, you can pretty much guess they're migrants."
Police called U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which says they are allowed to stay in the U.S. under the wet-foot, dry-foot policy. That allows Cubans who physically make it to U.S. land to remain; those who don't are repatriated.
Agency spokesman Frank Miller says the five men were healthy and didn't require medical aid. They were initially processed at the Marathon Border Patrol office and then likely brought to the mainland.
"It usually doesn't take too long to process these individuals," Miller said. "It's possible they were already turned over to an [aid] organization."
He said they told agents they left from Cardenas, Cuba, on Sunday. "Cardenas" was painted on the back of their vessel.