Between the months of October 2014 to June 2015, 33,501 refugees came to Florida, reports the Orlando Sentinel. Most of them were from Cuba, and some came from Haiti and other countries. These numbers represent a 36 percent increase in immigrants coming to the state over the same time period the previous year. As many Floridians know, a large number of refugees set foot on Florida land after spending time at sea.
Most people may not realize the extreme hardships that immigrants endure to try to make a better life in America. The trip overseas itself has proved deadly for countless desperate refugees, states NBC News. Authorities are concerned that dangerous ocean conditions, as well as ruthless human smugglers, have killed many would-be immigrants.
Immigrant rights activists paint a grim picture of smugglers stranding their passengers on remote islands or even pushing them into the sea to drown. As Coast Guard authorities closed in on a boat headed to U.S.-governed Puerto Rico from the Dominican Republic, smugglers tossed two of the Haitian refugees overboard, without life preservers, in an attempt to escape. The Coast Guard rescued the passengers – one of them a 12-year-old boy. The diversion allowed the smugglers to briefly get away, although they were later apprehended.
An increasing number of Cubans are also risking their lives on small, fragile boats or homemade rafts to try to make it down the Gulf Stream to Florida. Regardless of people’s views on illegal immigration, no one should have to endure the hardships or terrifying conditions faced by immigrants who are hoping for a fresh start.