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By Hank Tester
/ CBS Miami
MIAMI – It is almost like clockwork, and most always early morning, that Cuban migrants try to reach Florida.
On Tuesday, 25 of them landed on Key Biscayne. A federal law enforcement official confirmed, as they put it, “a maritime smuggling event.”
This fiscal year, some 3,000 Cubans have been apprehended at sea – most repatriated to back to the island nation.
Willy Allen is probably one of Miami’s best known immigration lawyers.
“Once you touch American territory you have the right to go before an immigration judge and seek asylum,” he said.
That’s what the thousands upon thousands of Cubans are doing at the U.S. border with Mexico. That is likely what these folks that arrived Tuesday morning will do: Ask for asylum, describe a creditable fear of persecution and seek a hearing. They might not be going back to Cuba anytime soon.
“You have a shot to present your asylum case to an asylum officer and a judge so they have a shot to stay here,” Allen said.
Despite the wet foot, dry foot policy being dropped, there is still a chance the arrivals could stay, possibly paroled waiting for a hearing. Smuggled or arriving on Florida’s shores, Cuban migrants are a drop in the bucket compared to the number of Cubans arriving by land at the U.S.-Mexican border.
“If you look at figures that came out in June, the are at 170-plus Cubans… that are clogging up the immigration system. it is impossible to go before an immigration judge in the near future.”
How about Cubans that land in South Florida by boats are undetected?
“This year we have half a dozen guys who came in that way. We applied for asylum for them, and they have interview already and out of the five four got asylum,” Allen said.
Another factor in this story: All who arrived are likely witnesses to a smuggling operator. They will be part of an federal investigation that could also keep them in the U.S. for some time.
Hank Tester is a CBS4 News general assignment reporter. He joined WFOR-TV CBS4 Miami in October 2015.
First published on July 12, 2022 / 7:09 AM
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