After roughly 300 migrants arrived there during the holiday weekend, a secluded national park in the Gulf of Mexico closed on Monday, according to officials.
The park said in a tweet that the temporary closure was necessary “while law enforcement & medical personnel evaluate, administer care for & coordinate transport to Key West” for the migrants. Dry Tortugas National Park is about 70 miles west of Key West.
The temporary suspension of concession-operated ferry and seaplane services was also announced by park officials in their statement. “The closure, which is anticipated to last several days, is necessary for the safety of visitors and staff due to the resources and space needed to attend to the migrants,” they added.
At least 88 of the migrants who had arrived at that point were from Cuba, according to a tweet sent out on Saturday afternoon by Walter Slosar, chief patrol agent for the Miami Sector of the U.S. Border Patrol. In the most recent fiscal year, more than 220,000 Cubans crossed the border with Mexico, many of them escaping shortages of food, medication, and power as well as a crackdown on anti-government demonstrations.
Slosar tweeted that as of Sunday afternoon, more than 160 migrants have landed in 10 different locations since midnight.
The statement from the park stated, “Like elsewhere in the Florida Keys, the park has recently noticed an uptick in visitors arriving by boat from Cuba and landing on the islands of Dry Tortugas National Park. Before the Department of Homeland Security comes and assumes command, “Park first responders offer food, drink, and basic medical care.”
The migrants “will be removed, provided food, water & basic first aid before transfer to federal [law enforcement] agents in the Keys for processing by [The U.S. Border Patrol’s Miami Sector] to determine their legal status to remain in the United States,” Rear Adm. Brendan C. McPherson, director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Southeast Task Force and commander of the Seventh Coast Guard District, added in a tweet.