Illegal Aliens Overwhelm Officials in the Florida Keys, Prompt Closure of National Park

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Some 500 illegal immigrants have landed on islands in the Florida Keys in the last several days, prompting officials to close the Dry Tortugas National Park on Sunday.

“During the past 72 hours, [Border Patrol] agents have responded to a high volume of migrant landings in the [Florida Keys],” U.S. Border Patrol Chief Agent Walter Slosar said on Twitter Monday. 

The most recent wave of illegal immigration is fueled by economic turmoil, food shortages, and soaring inflation in Cuba and other parts of the Caribbean.

The National Park Service said Sunday it was closing the Dry Tortugas National Park, about 70 miles west of the Key West, to public access, including suspending ferries and seaplane services, while police and medical personnel evaluate and provide care and transport for the illegal aliens arriving from Cuba.

The national park is expected to be closed for days, which officials said was necessary for the safety of visitors and staff because of the resources and space needed to attend to the illegal aliens.

“Like elsewhere in 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 National Park Service’s statement said. “Park first responders provide food, water and basic medical attention until the Department of Homeland Security arrives and takes the lead.”

“While the park is closed, vessels may seek safe harbor in the designated areas within the one nautical mile anchoring zone around Garden Key, including Bird Key Harbor,” the statement continued. “There will be no visitor services available while the closure is in effect, and emergency services will be extremely limited.”

‘Federal Failure’

In a statement on Monday, Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay criticized the slow federal response to the spike in arrivals, saying they were stretching local resources.

Ramsay said federal authorities informed his office of a delay in getting federal resources to some of the illegal immigrants, which Ramsay’s office indicated would aggravate what was becoming a “humanitarian crisis.”

By Caden Pearson

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