EFE (via 14ymedio), Miami, 30 December 2022 –The US immigration authorities released on Thursday a group of Cuban asylum seekers who were waiting to be deported and who were on a list with confidential data of more than 6,000 immigrants that was accidentally leaked on the Internet.
According to the Miami Herald, a group of up to 17 Cuban undocumented immigrants who remained detained at the Broward Transition Center in Pompano Beach (Florida) began to be released this Thursday and were received by their relatives.
“I am going to celebrate my freedom, something that we have, for a long time, been hoping for,” said the young Andy García, 26, one of those who were released this Thursday and who, like his compatriots, surrendered to the US immigration authorities in October after crossing the border with Mexico.
The Cubans had not been able to prove before an immigration judge that they were politically persecuted and that they feared for their lives if they were returned to the Island, a statement that in the immigration courts is known as “credible fear,” so they were waiting to be deported.
However, on November 28, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service (ICE) mistakenly disseminated on the Internet a document with the identities, ages and nationality, among other data, of 6,252 immigrants in their custody, who claimed to be victims of torture and persecution in their countries of origin.
At the beginning of December, government officials from the Department of National Security (DHS) told the Cuban government in a phone call that it would delay deportations to the Island due to the leak, indirectly confirming to Havana that potential Cuban deportees were fleeing persecution or torture.
The relatives of the Cubans, who in recent days had gathered outside the immigration detention center with posters calling for the release of their loved ones, received the first report about the release on Tuesday night, according to the Miami Herald.
In recent days, and after the leak, Florida Congresswoman María Elvira Salazar urged the Secretary of National Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, to stop the deportation of 46 Cubans who were asylum seekers.
“The safety and well-being of refugees fleeing the (Cuban) regime must be the guiding principle of our immigration policy on Cuba,” Salazar said in her letter.
Salazar described the leak as “dangerous for life, and unacceptable,” and urged Mayorkas to take “the necessary measures to protect these people and reconsider their asylum applications,” since the United States had no way to guarantee their safety if they were deported to the Island.
The serious situation in Cuba was addressed on Thursday by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in an assessment that the Island, Venezuela and Nicaragua close 2022 with almost 1,500 people imprisoned for political reasons.
The IACHR described the governments of these three countries as “authoritarian” in a statement and accused them of manipulating the judiciary to prosecute and imprison people for political reasons.
“The independence and autonomy of the judiciary is an essential element for the existence of the rule of law,” claimed the commission, an autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), based in Washington.
In total in all three countries, the commission reported 1,467 arrests for political reasons, including civilians and military. Cuba is the country with the most prisoners of this type, with 1,034 people detained as of November 2022.
This is followed by Venezuela, with 247 political prisoners in October of this year and Nicaragua, with a total of 195 detainees.
Persons deprived of liberty under these governments, in addition, are treated differently from the rest of the prison population, the IACHR stressed, “which has caused a serious deterioration in health” in several of them.
There is little official information about the situation of the detainees, since they are isolated and find it difficult to maintain regular contact with their families. In some cases they are subjected to torture and cruel treatment, the IACHR denounced.
The women arrested also face gender-based violence, as well as “bad treatment as a method of punishment, repression and humiliation,” the commission stressed.
At the beginning of December, the President of the United States, Joe Biden, reiterated his request to the Cuban government to release the “political prisoners” arrested after the July 2021 protests on the Island, who have received sentences of up to 30 years in prison.
Translated by Regina Anavy
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