Updated 06:36 AM EST, Thu, Nov 26, 2020

US Coast Guard: There’s a New Wave of ‘Desperate’ Cuban Migrants, Some ‘More Hostile’ & ‘Violent’ Towards Officials

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A new surge of "desperate" Cuban migrants are heading for the United States, with some of them willing to resist and display violence towards officers who stop them, according to U.S. Coast Guard officials, as reported by NBC News.

"In the past year, we've had over 20 cases where there has been violence toward our boarding team members or other migrants on these vessels," said Capt. Mark Fedor, the Chief of Response for the U.S. Coast Guard Seventh District, as quoted in NBC News' report.

Coast Guard statistics indicated that in the last three months of 2015, 1,536 Cuban migrants have traveled via the sea and majority of them were intercepted by the service, the news outlet noted. This is in comparison with 4,473 Cubans in the whole fiscal year of 2015, which ended on Sept. 30.

In January's first five days alone, the number of Cubans seeking refuge in the U.S. had already spiked to 176, showing a steady climb in Cuban maritime migration despite a time of the year when winter weather commonly keeps the numbers in a low level, NBC News added.

The Coast Guard is also concerned about the state of the migrant boats, which are unsafe, unstable, and are often dangerously overloaded. Coast Guard Lt. Commander Gabriel Somma said that these makeshift boats are "a tragedy at sea waiting to happen," NBC News reported. These boats usually depart from the Havana or Matanzas areas in Cuba to the Florida Keys.

Officials said that many of the Cubans they have intercepted have given two reasons behind the migration surge. The first being "they don't see any bright economic future for themselves in Cuba, even with the normalization process that's going on," the news outlet quoted from Capt. Fedor.

Secondly, Cubans are worried that the U.S. government would terminate the special immigration privileges granted to them during the Cold War under the Cuban Adjustment Act. This 1966 law employs the "wet-foot dry-foot policy," allowing any Cuban who sets foot on U.S. soil to stay in the country if they have "dry foot," NBC News wrote. Those who are picked up at sea, with a "wet foot," are expatriated.

The Cuban government has been pushing to end these special immigration privileges, but the U.S. wouldn't budge. However, rumors of the law changing have caused "anxiety and desperation among Cuban migrants where they are being more hostile" and "more violent to our boarding team members," NBC News reported from Fedor.

Costa Rica has made arrangements to send Cuban migrants stranded in the country back to their journey to the U.S. next week, Yahoo! News reported. This move is under an agreement between several Central American nations.

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