Cuban refugees cost Cayman

Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts called the Cuban refugee situation ‘a costly affair’ last Thursday and said there are indications the recent boat landings in the Cayman Islands by Cubans will continue.

Mr. Tibbetts said the continued arrival of Cuban refugees was worrisome.

‘The arrivals have been occurring not sporadically, not even intermittently, but quite regularly,’ he said.

‘We don’t know why it’s happening, but those that are coming are saying more are on their way.’

The situation is putting a strain on the Cayman Islands.

‘We do not have the facilities to deal with these people en masse,’ he said.

In addition, the government has to bear the costs of the detention and repatriation of the refugees, Mr. Tibbetts said.

‘Money has to be spent for processing, security, meals and accommodation.’

Mr. Tibbetts said even though the refugees are not considered high risk, they have to be under 24-hour-per-day guard. A mixture of government enforcement and private security firms provide the guards, he said.

‘There are established protocols that have to be observed.’

The refugees also must be fed three times a day.

Mr. Tibbetts said the repatriation process needs to happen more quickly.

‘The Cuban authorities are not very anxious to respond by completing the necessary paperwork,’ he said. ‘[The process] is a bit difficult. We can’t just put them on a plane and send them back.’

Under the Memorandum of Understanding between the Cayman Islands and Cuba, Cuban refugees that land here must be repatriated.

‘We need to break the back of it and let [the refugees] know they can’t come here,’ Mr. Tibbetts said. ‘If they know that if they come all the way here only to be sent back, they won’t come.’