BY TIMOTHY O’HARA
AND ADAM KARLIN
MARATHON ó Eight Cuban men and three women landed on Sombrero Beach early Monday.
The 11 Cuban nationals likely will be allowed to stay under the federal government’s wet-foot, dry-foot policy, Border Patrol spokesman Steve McDonald said.
McDonald said the Cubans, who smelled of diesel, arrived in a homemade vessel about 6:30 a.m.
They had been at sea for two days with less than a gallon of water between them, one of them said.
“Crazy. It’s crazy to do this,” said another, who declined to give his name.
The group seemed relieved and optimistic about their future in the United States.
“They all appear to be in good health,” McDonald said.
They first were taken to Marathon High School to await the Border Patrol. One of the Cubans returned to the beach with Border Patrol officers, but they were unable to locate the boat, McDonald said.
They were processed at the U.S. Border Patrol office in Marathon. Border Patrol officers expected to transport them to Miami, where a nonprofit agency will screen them to see whether any of them need to be detained, McDonald said.
In an unrelated case, 15 Cubans and a dog were sent back to Cuba on Monday, six days after the Coast Guard intercepted them 50 miles southwest of Key West. The crew of the Coast Guard cutter Reliance spotted the homemade vessel and boarded it Jan. 24. The migrants received food, water and medical attention, according to a press release the Coast Guard issued Monday.
Under the wet-foot, dry-foot policy, Cuban refugees who set foot on American soil may be allowed to stay. Those who are picked up in the water or aboard a vessel are returned to Cuba