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Cuban migrants land at Florida airport in motorized hang glider; detained by ICE

Image source: Monroe County Sheriff's Office (left), United States Border Patrol (right)

Two Cuban migrants arrived at Key West International Airport in a motorized hang glider Saturday, authorities reported.

"I actually heard it first. I heard that glider in the air (and) I heard the motor," Christopher Herrera told WPLG. "I actually looked up because it shouldn’t be where it was, that’s in the path of Key West Airport," Herrera added.

No serious injuries were reported, the Monroe County Sheriff's Office said of the 10:30 a.m. arrival.

MCSO officials said the two migrants were turned over to the custody of the United States Border Patrol.

There were no interruptions in service at the airport and "operations continue as normal," airport director Richard Strickland said in a statement acquired by the Miami Herald.

Chief Patrol Agent Walter N. Slosar of the United States Border Patrol Miami Sector shared photographs of the craft on Twitter Saturday.

The USBP's Miami Sector safeguards 1,279 miles of coastal border along the Atlantic and Gulf shores in the Sunshine State. It contains six Border Patrol Stations "strategically located and staffed to address the current threat within the State of Florida only."

"I see this thing coming at me, and it looks weird," seaplane pilot Nick Pontecorvo told Keys News. "I see it's an ultralight and it zips past my wing."

Pontecorvo described the sight as "pretty awesome," according to WPLG. He said said it takes "a lot of courage" to make a flight over 90 miles of open ocean, "especially with the wind."

In February 2023, 22,755 Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans were paroled into the country though the parole process established for Venezuelans in October and then expanded to additional nationalities in January, U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported in its Monthly Operational Update March 15.

CBP reported a decline of 98% in encounters of Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans between ports of entry on the southwest border based on a seven-day average of 1,231 in January and a seven-day average of 46 in February.

CBP reports the total number of unique southwest border encounters of Cubans was 140 as of February 23. The figure was 6,053 for January and 42,183 for December 2022.

The Cuban migrants who entered the country via hang glider are being held at Broward Transitional Center in Pompano Beach, WPLG reported Monday. They are currently under a 10-day quarantine at the detention facility and will come before a judge after that quarantine period expires, the outlet also reported.
Watch footage shared by WPLG of the motorized hang glider in the air, approaching Key West International Airport.
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