One-third of the Cuban migrants being kept in detention on Grand Cayman escaped early Monday morning.
Eleven migrants – nine men and two women – got out of the George Town Immigration Detention Centre where they were being housed until their repatriation to Cuba could be arranged.
The centre had been housing 33 migrants since last week, when a group of 17 migrants whose vessel foundered off the coast of Cayman Brac were brought in by authorities.
Police and immigration officials were searching for the migrants at press time, but there had been no word of any being captured.
Generally, immigration officers have said problems such as escapes or disputes tend to occur at the low-security detention centre when more than 15 to 20 migrants are housed there. Most of the individuals who come to the Cayman Islands from Cuba are seeking passage to Honduras and eventually to the US via Central America and Mexico.
Chief Immigration Officer Franz Manderson has previously said that most Cuban detainees are not dangerous and have merely left their homeland seeking economic opportunities.
Anyone who spots the migrants is asked to report sightings to the Immigration Department at 926-0433 or 244-2028, or by calling the police at 911.
The Immigration Detention Centre saw five migrant escapes last year, the latest of which occurred on 21 July.
At one point, the centre became so crowded with Cubans awaiting repatriation that immigration officials decided to start letting them out on weekdays, as long as they agreed to return by evening.
That was not the case with the group of 11 that escaped detention on Monday. It was the first escape reported at the centre this year.