14ymedio, Havana, 12 August 2022 — “El Triunfador” and “Libertad” are the names of two precarious boats in which 35 Cubans arrived at Marathon Cay, FL, in the U.S., between Wednesday and Thursday of this week. The passengers of El Triunfador, three women and 16 men who made landfall this Thursday, were placed in federal custody, and “will be processed for removal proceedings,” according to Walter Slosar, head of the Border Patrol, through his Twitter account.
These 19 rafters have the option of applying for asylum, which involves proving to an officer or judge that they’re afraid to return to their country. If Cubans convince the relevant authorities, they are “given bail and can ask for asylum,” explained Willy Allen, an Immigration lawyer.
The judicial process for the 16 passengers who arrived Wednesday on the Libertad boat will be different, since they were detained after a maritime smuggling operation. Agent Slosar indicated that an alleged smuggler was arrested with them, so an investigation was initiated.
If it’s proven that the Cubans were victims of human trafficking, the alternative, as lawyer Miguel Díaz pointed out to the television network Telemundo 51 in Miami, is to focus on applying for the D visa or the U visa, which can be used by victims of crimes, as long as the authorities consider their petitions valid. Those who benefit from this type of visa are granted a residence permit for four years and authorization to work in the United States.
In recent weeks, the departure of boats from the Island has skyrocketed. According to records published by Officer Slosar, in the month of August alone, 143 Cuban rafters, who managed to reach Florida in 14 motorboats, fishermen’s boats and rafts, have been arrested.
A week ago, Adam Linhardt, spokesman for the Monroe County sheriff’s office, predicted the arrival of more rafters, especially from Cuba, which is going through an unprecedented humanitarian crisis with the increase in commodity prices and a notable increase in police repression.
In an attempt to mitigate this exodus, Erik Villa Rodríguez, non-commissioned officer of the U.S. Coast Guard, warned that “rafters who are intercepted will be repatriated to their country of origin.” He also reminded people of the danger of migrating in makeshift boats.
U.S. Coast Guard data indicate that 3,739 Cubans have been intercepted since October 1, 2021.
The migration crisis that the Island is experiencing also occurs by land. According to data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, from the beginning of the fiscal year on October 1, 2021, until mid-June 2022, a total of 140,602 Cubans entered U.S. territory, a figure that already exceeds the Mariel exodus of 1980, when 125,000 people reached U.S. soil in seven months.
#Alert: Nineteen Cuban migrants were taken into custody by the Border Patrol this morning after arriving at Marathon, Florida, in a homemade boat. There are 16 adult men and 3 adult women in the group. The migrants will be processed for removal proceedings. Chief Patrol Agent Walter N. Slosar (@USBPChiefMIP), August 11, 2022
In recent days, Bill Melugin, a journalist for Fox News, has testified to the entry into the United States through Eagle Pass of groups of 300 and 200 migrants, including several Cubans. This Friday he met four natives of the Island who were looking for Border Patrol agents in order to turn themselves in and request asylum.
Rafael Mendoza Ramos, a Cuban originally from Mayabeque, is in the Migrant House, located in Ciudad Juárez, trying to cross the border through the state of Chihuahua. As he told 14ymedio via WhatsApp, he has been traveling for four months and has spent one month waiting at the border. “If I don’t solve this, I’m going to Acuña, where groups are passing through the Rio Grande.” He has learned that there they are ’providing assistance” to migrants.
Translated by Regina Anavy
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