The U.S. Coast Guard repatriated 169 Cuban migrants after picking them up in the South Florida Straits on Thursday.
Nine separate groups of rafters were taken back to Bahia de Cabañas in Cuba.
With Thursday’s repatriations, a total of 396 migrants have been picked up in the waters between Florida and Cuba during the first month of 2016.
“Immigration policies have not changed, and we urge people not to take to the ocean in unseaworthy vessels,” said Capt. Mark Fedor, Coast Guard 7th District chief of response. “It is illegal and extremely dangerous.”
The Coast Guard estimates that 1,942 Cubans have tried to make the trip to the U.S. by sea since Oct. 1. This represents the number of interdictions, landings and disruptions in the Florida Straits.
Coast Guard officials have noted an increase in rafters since the U.S. announced a normalization of diplomatic relations with Cuba in December 2014.