An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Press Release | June 17, 2024

Coast Guard repatriates 19 migrants to Cuba following multiple interdictions

Coast Guard Seventh District

MIAMI – The crew of U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Richard Etheridge repatriated 19 migrants to Cuba, Monday, following multiple interdictions of unlawful maritime migration attempts in support of Operation Vigilant Sentry.  

The Coast Guard and its Homeland Security Task Force – Southeast federal, state and local partners will continue to patrol by land, air and sea to rescue and repatriate anyone attempting to enter the U.S. unlawfully by sea.  

The first case was reported by the Eighth Coast Guard District, where watchstanders were contacted by a good Samaritan merchant vessel whose crew rescued three Cuban nationals in the Gulf of Mexico. The migrants were transferred to Coast Guard Cutter Oak.  

The second case occurred after a good Samaritan notified Coast Guard Sector Key West watchstanders of a migrant vessel approximately 12 miles south of Boot Key, Florida. Coast Guard Station Marathon boat crews arrived on scene and safely embarked one Cuban national, who was transferred to Coast Guard Cutter Oak.  

The third case was initiated by a Coast Guard Air Station Miami HC-144 aircrew who notified Coast Guard Sector Miami watchstanders of a disabled center console with six persons onboard waving their arms in distress, approximately 25 miles east of Jensen Beach, Florida. Coast Guard Station Fort Pierce launched a boat crew to rescue the migrants who claimed they departed Cuba six days prior and ran out of fuel. The migrants were transferred to Coast Guard Cutter William Sparling.  

The fourth case occurred after Coast Guard Sector Key West watchstanders received a report of a migrant vessel four miles south of Marathon, Florida. Coast Guard Station Marathon launched a boat crew to rescue the 10 migrants onboard and transferred them to Coast Guard Cutter Oak.  

“Our highest priority is to prevent the unnecessary loss of life at sea that all too often results from irregular, unlawful maritime migration attempts aboard overloaded and unseaworthy vessels,” said Lt. Cmdr. John W. Beal, Coast Guard District Seven public affairs officer and HSTF-SE public information officer. “There are consequences for attempting to enter the U.S. unlawfully. Those who attempt to bypass the safe, orderly and lawful immigration pathways may be disqualified from future opportunities to come to the United States, and may further be presumed ineligible for asylum, subject to a five-year bar on future admission, and will potentially face criminal prosecution. Don’t take to the sea.”  

Once aboard a Coast Guard cutter, migrants are processed to determine their identity and are provided food, water, shelter, and basic medical attention before repatriation to their country of origin or return to the country from which they departed.  

For more information about Operation Vigilant Sentry including imagery, visit these links:   

On June 5, the Department of Homeland Security announced that U.S. immigration enforcement and asylum procedures are more strict. The Secretary of Homeland Security and the Attorney General jointly issued an interim final rule that generally restricts asylum eligibility for those who irregularly enter across the southern border – including the southwest land border and the southern coastal borders. These new measures are designed to increase the processing and consequences for those who cross our borders irregularly or who attempt to present themselves at Ports of Entry without authorization, allowing DHS to more quickly remove individuals who do not establish a legal basis to remain in the United States. For more information, follow these links to Department of Homeland Security fact sheets:  

For breaking news, follow us on X (formerly Twitter). For Task Force updates, follow @HSTF_Southeast on X. For additional information, find us on Facebook and Instagram.