The Arrival of 300 Migrants Forces a Florida National Park to Close

A national park in the Florida Keys was closed on Monday by the National Park Service (NPS) after about 300 migrants- mainly from Cuba – arrived on the cluster of remote islands over the weekend, officials announced.

Park officials said that the temporary shutdown at the isolated Dry Tortugas National Park, about 70 miles off the coast of Key West, could stretch through the week as police and emergency responders assist the migrants,

In a statement on Monday, the NPS said that because of the resources and space needed to attend to the migrants, the closure was necessary for the safety of visitors and staff.

Until authorities with the Department of Homeland Security take over the migrants’ cases, park officials will be providing them with food, water, and medical attention.

Roughly 300 out of at least 500 migrants that have arrived over the holiday weekend across the entire Florida Keys, arrived by boat and landed on islands within Dry Tortugas National Park – in the latest wave of migrant boat landings in the Florida Keys- as part of the recent wave of migration spurred by economic turmoil in Cuba and other parts of the Caribbean.

This was one of the largest encounters the US Border Patrol and the Coast Guard have faced in the region in almost a decade, regional authorities noted.

Sheriff Rick Ramsay of Monroe County, which encompasses Key West, pointed out that the US Border Patrol would not respond with resources for some migrant landings until Tuesday.

Noting that these landings are aggravating the mass migration crisis on the islands, Ramsay stressed in a Facebook statement that the current situation demonstrates the federal government’s lack of a working plan to deal with a mass migration issue that was foreseeable.

According to local radio station WLRN, Border Patrol agents in South Florida, have taken more than 2,000 migrants- mostly Cubans – into custody since Oct. 1.

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