Seventeen Cuban immigrants met by police as they came ashore on Key West Beach, video shows

A group of Cuban illegal immigrants landed Sunday morning in Key West, where they were met by police. The arrival was captured on video by a Key West man who happened upon the scene by Smathers Beach on South Roosevelt Boulevard, across from the Key West International Airport.

It’s a sight that’s become familiar in the Florida Keys, as the number of people willing to make the dangerous journey from Cuba to South Florida has significantly increased. Experts say it’s due to deteriorating economic and political conditions within the island nation.

There were 17 people who made it to Key West on a migrant vessel commonly called a chug, WLRN reported. They will likely be returned to Cuba by the Coast Guard. The video shows the group being met by police officers, who helped pull each person over the seawall, as the sun rises.

Leamard, who owns Destination Catering and Events, was working early Sunday. He was driving back from delivering food at about 7:20 a.m. when he spotted a police car on the sidewalk off South Roosevelt. Next he saw a line of people wading through the ocean on their way to land.

“That’s when I got out of my vehicle and went over and realized, this is what’s happening,” Leamard said. “I saw folks with floats and backpacks and such.” In the video, Leamard points out the vessel the migrants used is floating in the distance.

Leamard considered the reasons why Cubans take great risks to cross the Florida Straits to try in attempts to reach the United States. Leamard, 54, came to the U.S. in 1985. “I went through the immigration process,” he said. “The whole process: work permit, green card, citizenship,” he said. “I started out as a housekeeper and dishwasher. Now I own my own catering company. America has so much to give. I am very grateful” (The Miami Herald).




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