US detains 172 Cuban migrants following end of 'wet foot, dry foot' policy
BY NORA GÁMEZ TORRES
At least 172 Cuban nationals who tried to enter the United States
following the end to an immigration policy known as "wet foot, dry foot"
are now in detention facilities, awaiting for the results of their
removal proceedings, federal agencies have confirmed.
Exactly where they are being held was not revealed.
"Since January 14, there has been an increase of 172 Cuban nationals in
ICE [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement] detention," an ICE
The official also said that two people had already been "removed" to
Cuba but did not clarify whether they are the same two Cuban rafters
that a Coast Guard spokeswoman said had been intercepted since the end
of wet foot, dry foot.
The fact that only two Cubans have been interdicted by the Coast Guard
since the end of the policy demonstrates how effective the change,
implemented by former President Barack Obama, has been in stemming the
flow of Cuban migrants.
In January 2016, a total of 3,846 Cubans arrived without a visa to the
United States. But from Jan. 12-31 of this year, only 426 Cubans were
considered "inadmissible" by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
agents at several ports of entry, according to a CBP spokeswoman.
Most of these "inadmissable" Cubans arrived in Miami (111) or Laredo
(279) on the U.S.-Mexico border.
During the same period, 1,400 Cubans were legally admitted, according to
figures obtained by el Nuevo Herald.
For many years, Cubans who arrived in the United States without a visa
and asked to stay were not afraid of being detained. All that ended on
Jan. 12 when, in the spirit of normalizing relations with Cuba, the
Obama administration eliminated the controversial wet foot, dry foot
policy, which allowed most Cubans who made to U.S. soil to stay.
Those "inadmissible" Cubans who arrived after the change of policy "are
either entered into removal proceedings or given the opportunity to
withdraw their application" and voluntarily leave the U.S., the CBP
An ICE source confirmed that there have not been deportations of Cubans
from Miami as of yet.
CBP, ICE and Citizenship and Immigration Services declined to say if
those 172 Cuban detainees had requested asylum, although a CBP source
said that about half of the 426 "inadmissibles" had expressed fear of
returning to Cuba and have begun the process of applying for asylum to
avoid being removed.
Immigration proceedings for at least one couple detained in Miami and
Broward have begun.
The hearing to introduce an asylum petition on behalf of Aquilino
Caraballo and Georgina Hernández, 67 and 64, took place on Monday at the
Krome detention center where Caraballo is being detained. His wife,
Hernández is at Broward detention center, known by the acronym BTC.
They are the parents of a Hialeah resident Geidy Caraballo whom the
couple had visited six times but were taken into custody upon arrival at
Miami International Airport after apparently telling an immigration
officer that they "wanted to stay."
According to his lawyer, Wilfredo Allen, the couple will face trial on
March 10, which in his opinion is quite "fast" for these types of cases.
They will continue to be detained while the process evolves, a procedure
authorities might follow from now on, he added.
An executive order signed by President Donald Trump established "the
detention of aliens apprehended for violations of immigration law
pending the outcome of their removal proceedings or their removal from
What happens in these hearings will be critical for the future of many
Cubans who are still stranded in Mexico or other countries and are
pondering their limited options, including the request for political
asylum in the U.S.
In the meantime, the possibility that Trump restores the wet foot, dry
foot policy seems ever more remote, despite the circulation of false
news reports making the rounds on social networks. On Thursday in Miami,
Rep. Carlos Curbelo R-FL said that the end of the special treatment for
Cubans was inevitable.
"We knew that the policy had many shortcomings," he said. "We didn't
think that the Obama White House would act so unexpectedly, at the last
minute, but I think that everyone recognized that the policy was causing
a difficult situation here in the United States and in Cuba."
El Nuevo Herald reporters Alfonso Chardy and Abel Fernández contributed
to this story.
Follow Nora Gámez Torres on Twitter: @ngameztorres
Source: 172 Cuban migrants detained following end of 'wet foot, dry
foot' policy | Miami Herald -