Exile organizations and volunteers are collecting food, hygiene products, and other donations to help the hundreds of Cuban migrants stranded in Mexico since former President Barack Obama ended the “wet foot, dry foot” immigration policy on January 12.
Democracy Movement, WWFE La Poderosa radio station, Vigilia Mambisa, and other organizations have set up a base at Calle Ocho at SW 13th Avenue in Miami, Florida. They have collected over 4,000 pounds of food and other basic necessities so far, but they still need more donations to fill up a trailer that is headed to Mexico on February 26.
The 53-foot trailer is going to travel to a church in Laredo, Texas, where it will be received by Sergio Pérez, a Cuban-American businessman who has organized similar donation operations elsewhere in the country.
News sources said once the donations reach Laredo, they will be taken to churches across the border in Nuevo Laredo. After that, they will be distributed to the approximately 800 Cubans who are stranded in the city.
Pérez told the press that there is some “disunity” within the Cuban-American community and he urged everyone to help the Cubans stranded in Mexico. The Cuban Club in California is also collecting donations to send to Mexico.
The organizations and volunteers hope to raise 40,000 pounds of food and other items to completely fill the truck. If the truck isn’t full by Sunday, Juan Cabrera, the driver carrying the supplies, said he will stop in Orlando and Tampa to load up more donations.
The number of Cuban migrants entering the U.S. has decreased since the end of “wet foot, dry foot.” The policy was implemented in 1995 during the Clinton administration. It allowed Cubans who entered the U.S. on land (“dry foot”) to qualify for residency after one year as stipulated by the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966. Cubans who were intercepted on the waters between the two countries (“wet foot”) weren’t so lucky; unlike those who made it to dry ground, they would be deported.
Last week, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deported the first two Cuban nationals who were deemed “inadmissible” for entry into the United States. They were placed on a flight to Havana on February 17. ICE agents didn’t specify when and where they arrived in the country, but they told news sources that this was the first “removal flight” since the elimination of the old immigration policy.
According to news sources, the two women arrived at Miami International Airport, applied for asylum, and were detained. They later allegedly asked their immigration attorney to terminate their asylum application, saying that they were actually only planning to be in the United States temporarily. Nevertheless, they were deported back to Cuba.
An additional 172 Cubans have been detained by ICE since the end of the policy. They are reportedly being held in detention facilities as they await the results of their removal proceedings. The Coast Guard also escorted almost a dozen Cubans intercepted at sea back to the island last Friday.