| 30 May 2024, Thursday |

Florida closes national park due to migrant influx from Cuba

While a growing number of migrants arrived there from Cuba, US authorities announced on Monday the closure of Dry Tortugas National Park, a group of islands west of Florida

The US National Park Service said the park “will temporarily close to public access while law enforcement and medical personnel evaluate, provide care for and coordinate transport to Key West for approximately 300 migrants who arrived in the park over the past couple of days.”

“Like elsewhere in the Florida Keys, the park has recently seen an increase in people arriving by boat from Cuba and landing on the islands of Dry Tortugas National Park,” it added. The park will be closed until further notice.

Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay criticized the federal government’s response to the migrants, and his office described the situation as a “crisis.”

“This shows a lack of a working plan by the federal government to deal with a mass migration issue that was foreseeable,” he said in a statement.
The Dry Tortugas National Park is around 70 miles (110 kilometers) west of Florida’s southernmost city of Key West. It is around 100 miles north of the Cuban capital Havana.

The park said in a statement that when the migrants arrive, “first responders provide food, water and basic medical attention until the Department of Homeland Security arrives and takes the lead.”

There has been an influx of migrants from Cuba to the US, as the Latin American country sees its worst economic crisis since the 1990s. Most of them take land routes, through Mexico.

A record 220,000 Cubans were caught at the US-Mexico border in fiscal year 2022.

Food shortages and inflation are driving people out of the country.

Thousands of migrants arriving in Florida after embarking on dangerous boat journeys are intercepted by the US Coast Guard, and often detained by the authorities. From October to late December 2022, US authorities detained more than 3,700 Cubans.

US Border Patrol and Coast Guard crews patrolling South Florida and the Keys say they have been experiencing the greatest escalation of migrant arrivals by boat in nearly a decade.

  • DW