14ymedio, Havana, August 19, 2019 — Yunier García Duarte, a young Cuban who landed in Miami last Thursday on a flight from Havana hidden in the plane’s cargo area, has now obtained legal representation. More than 25,000 people have also asked the government to allow him to remain in the United States.
“I risked my life. I hope they allow me… if they deport me, I’ll be tortured. I am urgentely asking them to consider my case. I came here because this is a country of human rights,” said García Duarte in a telephone interview with Telemundo 51.
García described a very difficult journey during which he was barely able to breathe in the plane’s cargo hold. The stowaway had been working as a baggage handler at Havana’s José Martí International Airport. El Nuevo Herald was able to confirm that the Cuban Interior Ministry is taking García’s escape very seriously and is conducting investigations at the scene according to airport employees.
Wilfredo Allen, one of the most prominent immigration attorneys in southern Florida, has agreed to provide legal representation to García, who told authorities he fears being returned to the island.
“I spoke with García Duarte’s family on Friday and Saturday. I also spoke with him over the weekend. I have agreed to be his attorney and am hopeful my client will be able to win this political asylum case,” said Allen in a telephone interview with El Nuevo Herald.
“The first thing we will do is request an interview to demonstrate ’credibe fear’ as soon as possible. After the interview we will ask that he be released on parole,” added the attorney, who said his team is already preparing a political asylum case.
Even if García is released, he might not be granted legal status under the Cuban Adjustment Act because, according to Allen, entering the country as a stowaway is illegal under U.S. immigration law. The 26-year-old has been transferred to Krome detention center in Miami-Dade county.
“If we manage to get him out on bail or on parole, we will have a political asylum trial in a Miami court. If he is not granted political asylum, he will be defended at Krome,” Allen added.
“A defense can be made based on political persecution resulting from past events or from possible consequences of a person’s actions. I think we can present a strong case of future persecution against Mr. García Duarte,” he explained. “Given all this, I am hopeful that we will be successful and he will be allowed to stay in the United States,” he said.
García has received massive support for his actions on social media. Groups of Cubans living in Florida have called upon local politicians to help the stowaway remain in the United States.
“Those of us who familiar with the sad reality of Cuba know that, if he is deported, he will be sent directly to serve a long sentence in one of the Castro dictatorship’s dungeons. I therefore join in calling upon immigration officials to issue a parole release that would allow him to remain in the United States,” wrote the iconic exiled singer Willy Chirino on Facebook.
A petition campaign on Change.org has recieved more than 25,000 signatures in little more than seventy-two hours. It asks the American government to grant the young man asylum.
Back on the island, his family has still not gotten over the shock. “He didn’t say anything to us. Yesterday he came home, he bathed, he ate and he went to work as usual,” said his sister, Yudeysi García, on Friday in Havana. The stowaway’s 2-year-old daughter remains in Cuba.
More than a dozen Cubans have escaped the island as stowaways on airplanes. Most died while making the attempt. The official Communist Party press has not reported anything about the incident.
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