Following the arrival of around 300 migrants during the New Year’s weekend, the Florida Keys’ Dry Tortugas National Park had to temporarily close.
“Like elsewhere in the Florida Keys, the park has recently seen an increase in people arriving by boat from Cuba and landing on the islands of Dry Tortugas National Park,” the National Park Service explained in a news release this week. “Park first responders provide food, water and basic medical attention until the Department of Homeland Security arrives and takes the lead.”
It’s anticipated that the closure would last a few days.
The 100-square-mile park, known as home to Fort Jefferson, undeveloped beaches and magnificent coral reefs, will not be open to visitors during this time. Accessible by boat or seaplane, the park is located on seven small islands about 70 miles west of Key West. Both services will be momentarily stopped.
Until they are transferred to U.S. Customs and Border Protection custody in Key West, the migrants are being fed and housed by the Homeland Security Task Force – Southeast, law enforcement, and medical staff, the organization said on Twitter on Wednesday.
According to a statement on the Facebook page of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, which has jurisdiction over the Florida Keys, more than 160 migrants have also recently arrived in the Middle and Upper Keys.
Despite the park’s closure, there are still plenty of ways to visit Key West and the rest of the Florida Keys, from beach vacations to road trips along the Overseas Highway.