Cuban migrants sent home

Some of the Cuban migrants who participated in a detention centre escape, followed by a spirited protest around the streets of George Town last month are now being repatriated.

A government press release said 19 of the 50 migrants housed at the Immigration Detention Centre were sent home to Cuba last week.

There are still 31 migrants being housed at the centre. The Cayman Islands is awaiting approval to send them back home.

During the 14 April demonstration, about 30 migrants pleaded with the government not to return them to Cuba. They marched along the waterfront, blocked traffic, waved a banner that read ‘Don’t to come back to Cuba’ and wore white t-shirts that said ‘No Cuba.’

Chief Immigration Officer Franz Manderson said the repatriated migrants were all identified as having fled their native country for economic reasons. Mr. Manderson said none of them qualified as refugees under the UN Convention, which might have allowed them to stay in Cayman.

The protest and other recent incidents involving migrants here in Cayman have re-kindled the debate over what the country should do with migrants who arrive here.

The Cubans generally arrive in run-down water craft, seeking passage to Central America. The Cayman Islands government policy forbids immigration officers from assisting migrants in any way unless they agreed to be taken into custody for repatriation.

There have been several incidents on Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac where Cuban migrants have been supplied with food, water, and even fuel by island residents. Mr. Manderson has publicly discouraged that practice.

The Cayman Islands Human Rights Committee has spent the last several months reviewing the government’s policy on Cuban migrants. The board is soon expected to make recommendations to the government concerning the issue.

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