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The U.S. Coast Guard rescued three migrants from Cuba from a sinking boat off the Florida Keys Sunday morning.
The U.S. Coast Guard rescued three migrants from Cuba from a sinking boat off the Florida Keys Sunday morning. (Dreamstime/TNS)

(Tribune News Service) — The U.S. Coast Guard rescued three people from a sinking boat off the Florida Keys Sunday morning, and the U.S. Border Patrol later confirmed that the people are migrants from Cuba.

The incident happened about 4 miles off of Sombrero Beach in the Middle Keys city of Marathon, Coast Guard spokeswoman Petty Officer Nicole Groll said.

The Coast Guard transferred the people to local fire-rescue medics, Groll said. Their medical conditions were not immediately available Sunday afternoon. Groll said a description of the vessel was also not immediately known.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Division Chief Adam Hoffner said the three are migrants from Cuba, but declined to release any further information because the circumstances of the incident are under investigation.

The Coast Guard, Border Patrol and other agencies that enforce federal immigration rules are dealing with a sharp rise in maritime migration from Cuba to South Florida that began about a year ago. Experts on Cuba say the trend is due to deteriorating economic, political and health conditions within the island nation.

The federal government tracks migration by the fiscal year that begins and ends in October. In fiscal year 2020, the Coast Guard stopped less than 50 people at sea making the dangerous attempt across the Florida Straits. In fiscal year 2021, that number jumped to 838 people, according to the Coast Guard.

And, with this fiscal year less than three months old, the Coast Guard reports that it has already stopped 339 people from Cuba at sea.

Maritime migration from Haiti to South Florida is also steadily increasing, federal officials say.

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©2021 Miami Herald.

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