Cuban migrants - and their dog - come ashore on Miami Beach

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 15, 2015 4:23 PM

By Zachary Fagenson

MIAMI (Reuters) - A group of 12 Cuban migrants in a makeshift sailboat washed onto the tourist-lined sands of Miami Beach on Tuesday, police said.

The group included 11 men, a woman and a dog, said Miami Beach police spokeswoman Vivian Thayer.

Under the United States’ “wet-foot, dry-foot” policy, Cuban migrants who reach U.S. soil on smuggler vessels without visas are permitted to stay, unlike any other nationality. Those caught at sea, however close to shore, are repatriated unless they need urgent medical attention or can show they would suffer political persecution upon return to Cuba.

Images posted online by the Miami Herald showed a small rust-colored boat with a stained sail on the sand and Miami Beach’s iconic Art Deco hotels in the background.

No injuries were reported.

A spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, which screens migrants, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Despite a recent restoration of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States, the U.S. Coast Guard says the number of Cuban migrants seeking to reach U.S. shores by sea in 2015 has surpassed last year's total. So far during the agency’s 2015 fiscal year, which runs from October 2014 to the end of September, the number is 4,235, with 325 arriving, being forced back or intercepted, in the past 10 days. The 2014 fiscal year closed with 3,731.

"It’s a constant flow," said U.S. Coast Guard spokesman Mark Barney.

Thousands more Cubans have crossed into the United States via the border with Mexico, which has become an increasingly popular route.

(Editing by David Adams and Bill Trott)