KEY WEST, Fla. (WFLA) — The Dry Tortugas National Park announced that it would be closed Monday after seeing a sharp increase in Cuban migrant landings over the New Year’s weekend.
Officials said approximately 300 Cubans arrived at the park in the last few days, requiring medical personnel to evaluate and care for them before transferring them to Key West.
“They will be removed, provided food, water & basic first aid before transfer to federal LE agents in the Keys for processing by [Chief Patrol Agent Walter N. Slosar] to determine their legal status to remain in the United States or be processed for removal and repatriation to their country of origin,” said Rear Adm. Brendan C. McPherson, commander of the Seventh Coast Guard District & director of Homeland Security Task Force — Southeast.
In the meanwhile, the park will be closed while the migrant situation is resolved, and the Department of Homeland Security takes charge of the situation.
“The closure, which is expected to last several days, is necessary for the safety of visitors and staff because of the resources and space needed to attend to the migrants,” the park said in a release. “Concession-operated ferry and sea plane services are temporarily suspended.”
While the park’s visitor services will be suspended, boats can still seek safe harbor within one nautical mile around Garden Key, including Bird Key Harbor.
Emergency services at the park were also said to be extremely limited while it is closed.