The US Coast Guard is stepping up patrols, along with their message that taking to the high seas off the coast of Florida is a very risky business.
This month, authorities repatriated hundreds of migrants to Cuba and Haiti.
A patrol boat spotted Elian Lopez Cabrera stuck at sea, on a windsurfer, about 15 miles off Marathon on Wednesday evening.
“One of the reasons they were able to locate him was that he had security equipment with him,” said Hansel Pintos, spokesman for the US Coast Guard. “He had GPS equipment, he had more than one cell phone, so he was able to make contact and alert the coast guard.”
Cabrera, from Cuba, has relatives in South Florida who are hoping that due to his medical condition, a colostomy bag, he will be able to stay in America.
“He’s not asking for help from the government, from anyone,” Cabrera’s cousin Dunia Rodriguez said. “He wants to be free, he wants to live a normal life and be with his family, we are here for him, we are not asking for money.”
Thursday morning also saw a group of Cubans arrive in Key West.
Cellphone video was taken of about 15 migrants near the 3900 block of Roosevelt Boulevard around 2:30 a.m.
The US Border Patrol told NBC 6 it is investigating an alleged maritime smuggling event.
“I was crying because I never expected to see something like this in my life,” said Roberto Garcia, who saw the group get off a boat and walk onto dry land. “I helped them smoke a cigarette, or give them water, talk with the family in Cuba or here, it was really nice.”
As a general rule, migrants caught trying to enter the country illegally are taken into care, medically treated if necessary, and then sent back to their country of origin.