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Coast Guard: More than 7,300 Cuban migrants intercepted reaching U.S. this fiscal year

AT SEA - JULY 24:  In this U.S. Coast Guard handout, Cuban migrants trying to reach the U.S. coast in Florida ride a makeshift boat made out of a 1951 Chevrolet truck with a propeller driven off the drive shaft July 16, 2003 off the coast of Florida. The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Key Largo returned the12 Cuban migrants from the vessel back to Cuba after making it within 40 miles of Key West, Florida. The photograph was released a week after the crew was repatriated.  (Photo by Gregory Ewald/ U.S. Coast Guard/ Getty Images)

AT SEA - JULY 24: In this U.S. Coast Guard handout, Cuban migrants trying to reach the U.S. coast in Florida ride a makeshift boat made out of a 1951 Chevrolet truck with a propeller driven off the drive shaft July 16, 2003 off the coast of Florida. The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Key Largo returned the12 Cuban migrants from the vessel back to Cuba after making it within 40 miles of Key West, Florida. The photograph was released a week after the crew was repatriated. (Photo by Gregory Ewald/ U.S. Coast Guard/ Getty Images)  (U.S. Coast Guard)

The Coast Guard says the number of Cubans intercepted at sea while trying to reach U.S. shores has risen even higher amid Washington's increasing contact with Havana.

According to a Coast Guard statement , authorities encountered 7,358 Cubans risking sea crossings to U.S. soil in the fiscal year ending Friday. That's a 65 percent increase from 4,473 tallied in the previous year.

A surge of Cubans has been fleeing the island over the last two years. Migrants fear the end of a policy allowing Cubans reaching U.S. soil to stay. Those found at sea generally are returned to Cuba.

The Coast Guard says 232 Cubans have been repatriated since Sept. 22.

Authorities say Hurricane Matthew in the Caribbean has magnified the danger for migrants attempting the journey in makeshift vessels.

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