172 Cuban Migrants Detained Following End of ‘Wet Foot, Dry Foot’ Policy

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Javier Rodriguez Ayala reunited with his family on January 13 after being detained for 31 hours. He was one of the last Cubans awarded parole into the U.S. because he arrived hours before the end of the “wet foot, dry foot” policy on January 12.

172 Cuban nationals have been detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents following the end of the “wet foot, dry foot” immigration policy. The Cuban migrants are reportedly being held in detention facilities as they await the results of their removal proceedings. ICE did not reveal the location of those facilities.

An ICE official told news sources that two of the detained migrants have already been “removed” to Cuba. Sources suspect the two Cubans were the rafters who were intercepted by the Coast Guard last month after the “wet foot, dry foot” policy officially ended.

The “wet foot, dry foot” policy was implemented by the Clinton administration in 1995. It was a revision of the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966 that essentially allowed Cubans who entered the U.S. to pursue residency in the country after one year. Under the policy, Cubans who were intercepted on the waters between Cuba and the U.S. would be deported, and Cubans who arrived on shore would qualify for residency as stipulated by the Cuban Adjustment Act.

The number of Cuban migrants entering the country without a visa has greatly decreased since former President Obama eliminated the policy last month. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the number of “inadmissible” Cubans entering the U.S. was only 426 in January this year—a big difference from the 3,846 Cubans who arrived without visas within the same period in January 2016.

A CBP source told the press that about half of the 426 Cubans have applied for asylum in order to avoid getting deported. The proceedings for one detained couple has reportedly already began in Miami and Broward.

Aquilino Caraballo, 67, and his wife Georgina Hernández, 64, had hearings on Monday to introduce their asylum petitions. Caraballo is detained at Krome Detention Center in Miami, while his wife is being held at a detention center in Broward only known by the acronym BTC. Their trial is scheduled for March 10.

The couple are the parents of Geidy Caraballo of Hialeah, Florida. They have reportedly visited their son in the U.S. on six different occasions but were detained at Miami International Airport after they allegedly told an immigration officer that they “wanted to stay.” How their case is handled will be good indicator of the future of Cubans who want to request asylum in the U.S.

Source: 2.9.17 172 Cubans Detained.pdf