Two Cuban migrants took to the air to enter the U.S. illegally on Saturday as they used a powered hang glider to fly into an airport in Florida – before being taken into Border Patrol custody after touchdown, authorities said.
Border Patrol agents in the Miami Sector nabbed the two migrants after they landed in the contraption at the Key West International Airport.
Chief Patrol Agent Walter Slosar said there were no reported injuries in the incident and praised the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office for its assistance. The office said that the incident took place at approximately 10:30 a.m. ET on Saturday.
The incident demonstrates the lengths to which some migrants will go to gain access to the United States. Migrants have used a variety of methods to cross the short distance, including small boats, to flee the communist regime in Cuba for decades.
While much of the attention related to border security and illegal immigration has focused on the U.S.-Mexico land border, others have sought to draw attention to both the northern border and the maritime border.
The Miami Sector, where the migrants were caught, has seen an increase in apprehensions from around 1,000 in FY 2020 and FY 2021 to over 4,000 in FY 2022 to more than 5,000 so far in FY 23, which began in October.
This week, the Homeland Maritime Security Subcommittee held a hearing on securing the often-overlooked border. Chairman Carlos Gimenez said that authorities were doing ‘tireless work’ despite being put into an ‘untenable’ position. He highlighted that, since Aug 2022, nearly 11,000 migrants have been repatriated after attempting to cross the Florida Straits.
Meanwhile, this fiscal year the U.S. has seen an increase in Cubans coming to the U.S. southern land border as well. There were over 220,000 encounters of Cubans at the southern border in FY 2022, up from 38,674 in FY 2021. So far in FY 2023, there have been over 113,000 encounters.
Cubans were one of the nationalities included in a humanitarian parole program expanded by the Biden administration in January that allows up to 30,000 migrants per month from four countries to fly directly into the U.S. That was combined with an extension of Title 42 expulsions to include those who enter illegally.