The families of several Cuban nationals who secretly left the island for Florida aboard two speedboats on the weekend of March 10 are desperately seeking information about the whereabouts of their relatives. According to news sources, some families have been waiting for days for word of their relatives safety.
Yandry Pérez became worried when his aunt in Cuba informed him that his mother, Marlenes Romero León, and his two younger brothers, Yusdiel and Kevin, were among those missing.
The U.S. Coast Guard reportedly intercepted and repatriated 27 Cubans who were found near Key Largo on March 10. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection also reportedly intercepted a 40-foot speedboat with 30 migrants aboard on March 12. On the same day, two more boats were intercepted. One containing seven Cubans was discovered at Blackpoint Park and Marina, and another carrying 21 migrants was intercepted at Key Largo.
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) did not provide any information about the captured migrants, but authorities are reportedly investigating the boatmen who brought the migrants from the island. The transporters will face severe penalties if they are found to be human traffickers.
Pérez, who came to the U.S. two years ago after crossing seven international borders to take advantage of the “wet foot, dry foot” policy, told the press that he “breathed a sigh of relief” when he learned that boats with Cubans aboard had been intercepted on the way to Florida. He said he saw someone who looked like one of his brothers being detained on television, and he is desperately trying to find his brother’s location. Pérez is hoping to hire a lawyer to represent his brother as he tries to apply for political asylum.
Julio Infante, who lives in Miami, is worried about the whereabouts of his father-in-law, who reportedly traveled on one of those boats. Infante told news sources that he has searched in many places but he is always told that they “cannot give information.” He doesn’t even know if his father-in-law is alive.
The migrants made the trip to the U.S. even though they likely knew that they would not get the preferential treatment Cubans used to receive when the “wet foot, dry foot” immigration policy was in place. “Wet foot, dry foot” was a relic of the Clinton administration. It let Cubans who crossed into the U.S. on land (“dry foot”) to enter the country and apply for residency after one year through the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966. Cubans who arrived via boat (“wet foot”) were deported. Former president Barack Obama put an end to “wet foot, dry foot” on January 12.
Since Obama ended the policy, the number of Cubans trying to illegally migrate to the U.S. has gone down. The Coast Guard estimates that only 1,951 Cubans have attempted to cross the waters to the U.S. since October 1, compared to 7,411 migrants in the previous year.
If the cases of migrants seeking political asylum like Pérez’s family and Infante’s father-in-law are deemed credible, they may have a right to see a judge. If they are granted asylum, then they might receive residency as stipulated by the Cuban Adjustment Act.
Source: 3.17.17 Cuban Families Seek Information About Migrants.pdf