South Florida migrant encounters up 400%, Border Patrol says

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(WASHINGTON) — U.S. officials in South Florida have seen a 400% increase in migrant encounters this fiscal year compared to the same period last year, Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz said Wednesday.

“In the past five days, interagency efforts in the Miami Sector led to discovering 26 smuggling events, totaling nearly 600 migrants,” Ortiz said in a Tweet. “Since October 1, 2022, Miami Sector has seen a 400% increase in migrant encounters over the same time period last year.”

The update comes as the area has seen an influx of migrant landings or attempted landings near Florida in recent days.

Dry Tortugas National Park in the Florida Keys announced Monday it would close to the public after an increase in migrant landings over the past few days shut down operations at the park there.

“Homeland Security Task Force – Southeast is aware of multiple migrant landings this weekend on Dry Tortugas National Park and the Marquesas. The U.S. Coast Guard and partner federal, state and local components in HSTF-SE are coordinating efforts to recover the individuals currently stranded on the remote, uninhabited islands,” Rear Adm. Brendan C. McPherson, commander of the Seventh Coast Guard District and director of Homeland Security Task Force, said in a statement.

On Monday, two cruise lines rescued two dozen people on small boats, cruise officials told ABC News.

Crew members on a Fort Lauderdale-bound Celebrity Beyond cruise ship rescued 19 people from a boat and provided them food, shelter and medical services, the ship’s Capt. Kate McCue said in an Instagram video on Tuesday.

Also, crew members from the Carnival Celebration cruise line noticed five people about 29 miles northwest of Cuba on Monday and stopped to help them, company spokesperson Matt Lupoli told ABC News in a statement.

The crew contacted the U.S. Coast Guard and met up with them near Key West, Florida.

Other parts of the country have also seen large swaths of people trying to enter the U.S.

Law enforcement officials have been arresting, detaining and removing migrants at the southern border more times in the past year than ever before in the country’s history.

Much of that work has been done under the Title 42 public health order, which was enforced in the early days of COVID-19, that allows for the speedy removal of migrants without giving them opportunities to apply for asylum.

On Dec. 19, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts temporarily stopped the expiration of the immigration restriction Title 42, which was scheduled to lift on Dec. 21, after 19 states filed an appeal.

The stay gives the justices enough time to consider the states’ appeal by delaying the deadline for Title 42 to end.

ABC News’ Armando Garcia contributed to this report.

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