More than 4,000 Cuban migrants have tried to enter the U.S. by sea since last October, even as tensions eased between the two countries. The figure, announced by the U.S. Coast Guard this week, marks nearly a 300-person increase over the same period the previous year.
The release of figures followed an announcement that Coast Guard officials had returned 52 migrants to Cuba after intercepting vessels in the south Florida Straits. Cubans considering the trip reportedly fear that the U.S. may become more hostile to allowing Cuban migrants who reach land to stay in the country as a result of last year’s landmark deal improving relations between the U.S. and Cuba, according to the Associated Press.
“Coast Guard missions and operations in the Southeast remain unchanged. The Coast Guard strongly discourages attempts to illegally enter the country by taking to the sea,” said Capt. Mark Gordon, Coast Guard 7th District chief of response enforcement, in a press release. “These trips are incredibly dangerous.”