A remote national park on the Gulf of Mexico closed Monday after about 300 migrants landed there over the holiday weekend, authorities said.
Dry Tortugas National Parkabout 70 miles west of Key West, temporarily closed Monday morning “while police and medical personnel assess, provide care and coordinate transportation to Key West” for migrants, the park he said in a tweet.
“The closure, which is expected to last several days, is necessary for the safety of visitors and staff due to the resources and space needed to care for migrants,” park officials said. said in his statementadding that concession-operated ferry and seaplane services were also temporarily suspended.
Walter Slosar, U.S. Border Patrol Miami sector patrol chief, he said in a tweet Saturday afternoon that at least 88 of the migrants who had reached that point were from Cuba. More than 220,000 Cubans crossed the US-Mexico border in the past fiscal year, many fleeing flooding and shortages of medicine and electricity, as well as a crackdown on anti-government protests.
By Sunday afternoon, more than 160 migrants had arrived in 10 landings since midnight, Slosar tweeted.
“As with other parts of the Florida Keys, the park has recently seen an increase in people arriving by boat from Cuba and landing on the islands of Dry Tortugas National Park,” the park statement continued. “Responders in the park provide food, water and basic medical care until the Department of Homeland Security arrives and takes the initiative.”
Rear Admiral Brendan C. McPherson, director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Task Force Southeast and commander of the Coast Guard’s Seventh District, added in a tweet that migrants “will be removed, provided with food, water and basic first aid before being transferred to [law enforcement] agents in the Keys for processing by [The U.S. Border Patrol’s Miami Sector] to determine your legal status to remain in the United States or be processed for removal and repatriation to your country of origin.”
The 100-square-mile park, made up of seven small islands, is accessible only by boat or plane and is known for its coral reefs and marine and bird life. according to the National Park Service. Is home to the 19th century naval fort and the former Fort Jefferson prison.
Carmen Sesin contributed.