MILITARY

US Coast Guard reports surge in Cubans trying to reach Florida illegally since mid-December

  • In this Dec. 30, 2014, photo provided by the U.S. Coast Guard, members of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Knight Island approach a boat with 12 Cuban migrants southwest of Key West, Fla. The Cuban migrants were repatriated to Cabanas, Cuba. Coast Guard officials said Monday, Jan. 5, 2015, that the number of Cubans attempting to reach Florida illegally by sea has surged since the U.S. and Cuba announced they would restore diplomatic relations. (AP Photo/U.S. Coast Guard)

    In this Dec. 30, 2014, photo provided by the U.S. Coast Guard, members of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Knight Island approach a boat with 12 Cuban migrants southwest of Key West, Fla. The Cuban migrants were repatriated to Cabanas, Cuba. Coast Guard officials said Monday, Jan. 5, 2015, that the number of Cubans attempting to reach Florida illegally by sea has surged since the U.S. and Cuba announced they would restore diplomatic relations. (AP Photo/U.S. Coast Guard)  (The Associated Press)

  • This Jan. 1, 2015 photo provided by the U.S. Coast Guard shows 24 Cuban migrants in the waters south of Key West, Fla. The Cubans were later repatriated. Coast Guard officials said Monday, Jan. 5, 2015, that the number of Cubans attempting to reach Florida illegally by sea has surged since the U.S. and Cuba announced they would restore diplomatic relations. (AP Photo/U.S. Coast Guard)

    This Jan. 1, 2015 photo provided by the U.S. Coast Guard shows 24 Cuban migrants in the waters south of Key West, Fla. The Cubans were later repatriated. Coast Guard officials said Monday, Jan. 5, 2015, that the number of Cubans attempting to reach Florida illegally by sea has surged since the U.S. and Cuba announced they would restore diplomatic relations. (AP Photo/U.S. Coast Guard)  (The Associated Press)

The Coast Guard says the number of Cubans attempting to reach Florida illegally by sea has surged since the U.S. and Cuba announced they would restore diplomatic relations.

The overall number of migrants making risky sea voyages toward U.S. shores from the Caribbean, including Cuba, has spiked in the past year. But the U.S. Coast Guard said Monday that the significant increase in the number of Cuban migrants since mid-December has been prompted by rumors that an abrupt end is coming this month to the so-called wet foot-dry foot policy. It usually shields Cubans from deportation if they reach U.S. shores.

There are no immediate plans to change the policy.

Lt. Cmdr. Gabe Somma says U.S. authorities have captured, intercepted or chased away 421 Cubans since Dec. 17.