United States Resumes Repatriation Flights to Cuba With the Transfer of 150 Immigrants

A Coast Guard Station Key West boat crew on scene with a 21-foot vessel with 22 people aboard approximately seven miles south of Key West, Fla., on July 23, 2021. (U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary) Immigration & Border Securi
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14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 24 April 2023 — A group of about 150 Cubans was repatriated to the Island this Monday on a flight that took off from Miami International Airport, in the first return of this type, by air from the United States, in two years. According to Univision 23 journalist Mario Vallejo, these people were held at the Krome Processing Center in charge of the Immigration and Customs Control Service.

“At least four buses left Krome for the airport,” he said through a video uploaded to his social networks. “By 8 in the morning they were on the airplane.”

Vallejo said that some relatives of these Cubans confirmed from the Island that they were visited by staff of the Ministry of the Interior to ask them “if they could receive” the returnees and that this process would take place in the next few hours; however this “was today,” the journalist said.

Meanwhile, reporter Mario J. Pentón of América Tevé, confirmed that the group of migrants arrived in Havana, but that they have not been able to move to their respective destinations, due to the fuel crisis that affects the entire Island. “Apparently they don’t have gasoline to transport those from the provinces” and the habaneros “are expected to be released in the next few hours.” He reiterated that neither the Cuban regime nor the US government has said anything.

Last Saturday, relatives of several Cubans detained in South Florida demonstrated in Miami to demand the release of those who entered through the U.S. southern border or by sea and lost their “credible fear” interviews.

The immigration lawyer, Miguel Inda Romero, told Univision 23 that they had as an alternative “what is called a deportation strike, since some of them have relatives who are residents or citizens who could make petitions for them, or simply be released under supervision as there are more than forty thousand Cubans.”

In November of last year, the Cuban government accepted the return by air of migrants who had not entered US territory, unlike those of this group.

The return by air was adopted by the Barack Obama Administration in 2017 as a limited tool to curb the number of Cubans crossing the border, but it was suspended during the coronavirus pandemic until this Monday when about 150 Cubans were repatriated.

This Sunday, the US Coast Guard transferred 20 Cubans who were rescued on Tuesday to the Bahamas on the ship Skipjack. The agency reported that since October of last year, the attempt of 6,449 rafters to reach Florida has been thwarted.

Since Friday, the Border Patrol has kept 26 Cubans in custody, including six children, who managed to disembark on Cayo Marquesas. According to Lieutenant-in-Chief Walter Slosar, they arrived on a homemade raft.

At the beginning of 2023, the US government implemented a policy to receive 30,000 monthly migrants from Venezuela, Haiti, Cuba and Nicaragua.

In parallel, it will immediately expel to Mexico the undocumented from those countries who try to cross the southern border to its territory irregularly.

Mexico, for its part, agreed to admit 30,000 migrants a month who are expelled from U.S. territory.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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