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Florida Keys National Park Closed by Surge of Cuban Migrants

Florida Keys National Park Closed by Surge of Cuban Migrants

Dry Tortugas National Park in the Florida Keys

The closure is expected to last several days as hundreds of migrants landed in recent days.

By Melissa Alonso, CNN

(CNN) – Dry Tortugas National Park in the Florida Keys is temporarily closed to the public due to an influx of migrants from Cuba.

The closure, which went into effect on Monday, is expected to last several days “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,” according to a National Park Service (NPS) press release.

The park is about 70 miles (113 km) west of Key West and is only accessible by boat or seaplane. Dry Tortugas covers about 100 square miles of mostly water and includes seven small islands. It is within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

“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,” NPS said Monday.

The park's closure “is necessary for the safety of visitors and staff because of the resources and space needed to attend to the migrants,” NPS said.

“Concession-operated ferry and seaplane services are temporarily suspended” as well, the NPS press release said.

According to a tweet from Homeland Security Task Force Southeast region, federal, state, and local authorities are “aware of multiple migrant landings this weekend” on Dry Tortugas.

Several law enforcement agencies "are coordinating efforts to recover those currently stranded on the remote, uninhabited islands," said the tweet.

The condition and exact number of migrants being processed is unclear.

On New Year's Day alone, over 160 migrants were encountered in the Florida Keys, according to a series of tweets from Walter N. Slosar, a US Border Patrol chief patrol agent. There were about 88 migrants encountered in the area on New Year's Eve, said Slosar.

In October and November, there were nearly 14,000 Cuban migrant encounters in the state, compared to about 35,000 for the 12 months up to September 30, 2022, USCBP data shows.

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