The U.S. Coast Guard said it returned 27 people to Cuba on Tuesday after stopping two groups off the Florida Keys in separate migration attempts late last week.
On Friday at about 3:45 p.m., the Coast Guard said that a good Samaritan reported a 21-foot vessel carrying 22 people about seven miles south of Key West.
The people were in good health, the agency said, and they were brought aboard the Coast Guard Cutter William Trump before being transferred to the Cutter Charles Sexton.
In the second instance off the Keys, the Coast Guard spotted five people on a makeshift raft about 15 miles off Islamorada at about 4 p.m. Saturday. They were also in good health, the agency said.
A Coast Guard boat crew picked up the five people and transferred them to the Charles Sexton.
On Tuesday, the Coast Guard repeated its warning that such attempts can be fatal and also asked for help in stopping migrants.
“Taking to the seas on unsafe vessels is dangerous and can result in loss of life,” said Capt. Adam Chamie, Coast Guard Sector Key West Commander. “We request all mariners to report any possible migrant voyages to help prevent loss of life at sea.”
The federal government tracks migration by the fiscal year, which runs from October to October.
Since Oct. 1, 2020, the Coast Guard has stopped 595 people from Cuba trying to reach South Florida. That is compared to just 49 people the prior fiscal year.
As the mass anti-government protests in Cuba began July 11, maritime migration between the island nation and South Florida came to an abrupt halt.