After Touching Land in the US, 13 Cuban Rafters Will be Able to File for Political Asylum

The wooden boat that brought 13 Cubans who landed in the Florida Keys on October 7, 2021. (Twitter/@USBChiefMIP)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 8 October 2021 — A total of 13 Cuban rafters detained by the Border Patrol when they made landfall last Thursday in Marathon Key, south Florida, were released this Friday morning and will be able to defend their request for political asylum in the coming months.

As reported by an immigration officer to América TeVé, the rafters remained in custody for only a few hours at the Krome Detention Center in Miami and had to be released due to an outbreak of covid-19 at the immigration center.

Donelys Suárez, one of the Cubans who made the journey, said that they left Matanzas and took four days to reach the Florida coast. The 23-year-old said that she does not regret the dangers and risks of the journey because she reached what she was looking for: “the land of freedom.”

“I need to be free, I need to be able to have dreams, plans. I need to help my family, have freedom of expression,” said Suarez, who is a nurse by profession and is in Miami. “I was afraid of staying in Cuba. I wanted to take risks. The worst thing is to stay in a country without opportunities,” she added.

Another woman and 11 men traveled with Suárez, and most of the journey was made at night to avoid being intercepted by the coast guard.

“The situation in Cuba has become super difficult. For young people there are no longer any possibilities of any kind, neither work nor future prospects nor any dreams. There really is no motivation anymore. In that country they have cut off almost everything,” she said.

All Cubans intercepted at sea are returned to the island, however in recent months several had luck and have passed the test of ’Credible Fear’, as was the case of Ernesto Urgellés, at the beginning of last August.

Urgellés was a police officer in Cuba and had been intercepted along with other rafters, who were returned to the island a few days later by the Coast Guard. The immigrant cannot enter the United States while his asylum request is being reviewed, therefore, he must stay at the Guantánamo base or in a third country that provisionally accepts him, the authorities indicated.

A month later, Julio César Capote was able to begin his asylum process on US soil. The rafter, who spent ten days at sea that left him on the brink of death, was rescued by the coast guard in the vicinity of Fowey Rocks, while sailing in a precarious six-foot boat. Due to the physical damage and the degree of dehydration in which he found himself, the rafter had to be hospitalized.

Regarding Capote’s legal options, Immigration lawyer Willy Alllen said then that in the Customs office there is the possibility that they will grant him the so-called ’parole’, a document with which, after one year and one day, he can opt for US residence according to the Cuban Adjustment Law.


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