Diaspora

Influx of Cuban and Haitian migrants reach Florida Keys – Axios

Miami
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Jorge Yunier Cepa Sanchez, 22, displays the compass he used to lead a group of Cuban migrants to the Florida Keys on Monday. Photo: Pedro Portal/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images
Federal and local authorities are grappling with a brewing crisis as hundreds of migrants from Cuba and Haiti have made the dangerous voyage by sea to the Florida Keys over the past week.
By the numbers: Since Friday, more than 500 Cuban and roughly 200 Haitian nationals journeyed across the Florida Straits — often in makeshift boats — to the Keys, overwhelming authorities and forcing the closure of Dry Tortugas National Park.
The latest: The U.S. on Wednesday reopened a long-closed legal pathway for Cuban migration when it fully resumed visa services at its embassy in Havana.
The big picture: Over the last two years, a wave of migration from Cuba and Haiti has resulted in one of the largest exoduses from the Caribbean nations.
Between the lines: Worsening conditions in Haiti and Cuba, along with a lack of legal paths to immigration, has led to the current migration wave, per the Migration Policy Institute.
Beyond the numbers are human stories of suffering and sacrifice, as some migrants told local news outlets they feared they would die making the days-long journey to Florida.
What they're saying: Jeiler del Toro Diaz, a 36-year-old fisherman from Cuba, told the Miami Herald his group spent several days at sea aboard a boat crafted with metal boards and 55-gallon tanks to float.
Haitian migrant Wilmer Davilmar, who arrived on the Keys Tuesday, told WPLG Local 10 that he was hoping to gain legal status and protect his children from the gang violence in Haiti.
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