U.S. Coast Guard intercepts boat with 21 Cubans

Cuba-U.S. law enforcement work together on immigration

By Andrea Torres - Digital Reporter/Producer

The U.S. Coast Guard Key West station is responsible for the territorial seas area bordering Cuba and the Bahamas. Photo Courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard.

KEY WEST, Fla. - The Cuban Border Guard notified the U.S. Coast Guard on Friday that a group of Cubans were off Mariel and attempting to get to the United States.  

A U.S. Coast Guard crew from Key West was working on the 154-foot fast response William Trump cutter, which launched in 2014, when they reported finding the "rustic" vessel with a woman and 20 men.

 "This is as much a safety issue as it is a law enforcement issue," Capt. Jason Ryan, chief of the Coast Guard 7th District enforcement branch, said in a statement.

On Monday, the crew of the Coast Guard cutter Raymond Evans returned the group of 21 migrants to Bahia de Cabañas, the Coast Guard reported on Tuesday. 

According to the U.S. State Department, apprehensions of Cuban migrants at U.S. ports of entry decreased by 88 percent from 2017 to 2018. The U.S. Coast Guard reported about 313 Cuban migrants have been detained at sea since Oct. 1.

U.S. and Cuban delegations met on July 11 in Washington to talk about immigration. Yuri Gala, Cuba's Foreign Affairs Ministry director of U.S. affairs said in a statement that Cuba has met its commitments to the U.S. "even in the most difficult circumstances of bilateral relations."

Cuban officials also helped the U.S. to catch 12-year fugitive Joseph Mahmoud Dibee, 50, while trying to board a plane from Cuba to Russia. The Earth Liberation Front and Animal Liberation Front member is accused of domestic terrorism. 

After decades of animosity and despite economic sanctions, President Barack Obama restored diplomatic relations with Cuba in 2015. His administration put an end to the "wet-foot, dry-foot" policy on Jan. 12, 2017, and signed an immigration enforcement agreement with the Cuban government under Raul Castro's presidency. 

President Donald Trump's administration did not reverse Obama's immigration policy, issued a travel alert and has made it more difficult for Cubans to get a U.S. visa. In September, Trump's administration shut down many of the consular services in Havana, after the mysterious "sonic attacks" reportedly injured two dozen U.S. citizens.

U.S. officials designated the U.S. embassies in Georgetown, Guyana, and Bogota, Colombia as the sites to process Cubans' U.S.visas. 

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