Immigration expects Cuban influx

Hurricane Ivan trailers 300x250

They’re back.  

For the first time in a few years, the Cayman Islands Immigration Detention Centre is brimming full of Cuban migrants after two boatloads arrived here within the past two months.  

Last weekend, a group of 17 Cuban migrants – 16 men and one woman – were taken into custody after their boat ran aground on the Brac. They were transferred to Grand Cayman on Wednesday.  

The latest group joined 19 Cuban boat migrants who arrived in the Islands in October and are also being held in the detention centre, meaning a total of 36 migrants are now being housed there awaiting repatriation.  

Chief Immigration Officer Linda Evans said, based on the intelligence her department has gathered from arriving migrants, Cayman can expect to see a lot more makeshift Cuban vessels entering its waters.  

“[The migrants] mention that because of the financial problems [in Cuba], there’s not as much patrolling along the coasts as there used to be,” Ms Evans said. “We think we’re going to experience a lot more boats.”  

According to records compiled by the Miami Herald, US-based interdictions of illegal Cuban migrants doubled between 2010 and 2011. The situation was blamed largely on Cuba’s stalled economy.  

Since the last large influx of Cuban migrants was sent home from the Immigration Detention Centre, the Immigration Department has rearranged the housing set up at the centre.  

Ms Evans said seven mobile homes used to house residents whose homes were destroyed during Hurricane Ivan in 2004 have now been placed on the detention centre property.  

Previously, migrants were kept in a single building lined with bunk beds which became hot if too many people were crammed into one area.  

The overcrowding situation was blamed for a number of escapes from the detention 
centre during 2007 and 2008.  

Generally, Cuban migrants are not thought to be dangerous, but Caymanian authorities have no way of checking the backgrounds of all who arrive. 

According to Cayman’s memorandum of understanding with the Cuban government, migrants who land illegally in the Islands are repatriated to their homeland. Until they are sent home, Cayman’s Immigration Department is responsible for the undocumented migrants’ feeding and housing.  

If a Cuban boat is found in Cayman Islands waters it is usually allowed to continue on its journey.  

However, if the passengers run into trouble and have to come ashore they are taken into custody.  

According to the sister of one of the migrants found on the Brac last Saturday, the boaters who came ashore were simply seeking to refuel their vessel before moving on. Ibaña Seguarado said her brother, Fernando, and the crew aboard the vessel came to shore with that understanding.  

“Unfortunately, the police catch them,” Ms Seguarado said. “They didn’t want to return to Cuba. He wanted to run away from there.”  

Ms Seguarado said her brother was simply seeking to better his life by moving away from Cuba, where he could not find a decent paying job to help his family.  

The Immigration Department’s policy on Cuban migrants typically defines individuals in Mr. Seguarado’s case as “economic migrants” – not political asylum seekers. If the department is convinced that such men will not face torture or retribution upon returning home, they will usually allow them to be repatriated.  

The department does allow asylum seekers to remain in Cayman under certain circumstances set out in United Nations human rights’ conventions.  

Ms Seguarado said her brother will face more difficulty when he is returned home.  

“They will watch him and punish him for any little thing he does wrong,” she said, speaking over the phone from Sweden.  

The Caymanian Compass was unable by press time to contact any of the Cuban migrants being kept in the Immigration Detention Centre. 

Ivan trailers

Trailers similar to these from the Hurricane-Ivan era are being used to house Cuban migrants at the Immigration Detention Centre. – Photo: Jewel Levy
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7 COMMENTS

  1. And sadder still that Cayman returns them to Cuba where they most certainly will be prosecuted and persecuted. These people are absolutely desperate and destitutely poor. They leave in make-shift boats risking their lives for freedom. The average salary is less than 20.00 a MONTH in Cuba. You couldn’t live on that for a week, let alone a month. If Cayman wanted to do the right thing, they would transport them to Honduras, or a similar country, who would welcome them. We probably could hire some here — why bring workers all the way from the Phillipines at a huge cost of airfare, when there are people so close by who are desperate for work and will be extremely dedicated workers. Something is definitely wrong with this picture.

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  2. @CaymanMermaid – I understand where you are coming from… we need to remember that they are people, human beings. But we can’t forget our own people in sacrifice for another people. What do I mean? Cayman is having a hard time right now – no money circulating in the economy like it should. The government owes alot. So it would not be feasible to keep Cubans here and pay for them to stay here unless they do some community service for the government here. Apparently, they are just being housed. And who has to feed, clothe, and provide for their medical needs? ….That is why it just makes sense to repatriate them back to Cuba. And to send them some other place, will be encouraging boat loads of Cubans to come here, which again, we can’t afford. So we have to think about us first or we may just end up like them, desperate. It is a harsh reality, but that is the only way you can love people- by loving your self first.

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  3. If Jamaicans can claim and convince Caymanians ‘we were under Jamaica’ because the UK administered the affairs THROUGH Ja., then I think Cubans should be given the same opportunities given to other neighbouring countries obtaining much favour ……….. afterall, Caymanians are now a minority and our leaders are not looking out for us, so I am all for diversity and not the continued dominance of one group at unfairness to others.

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  4. They do not have to be returned to ‘Cuba. the US government has for decades accepted Cuban refugees. the Cayman Islands government should liase with the us government and send them onto the United sStates as was the policy from the inception of Cuban migrants entering cayman’s shores in the early days.
    they arrived in the Cayman Islands and then we sent them onto Florida in the US where they haves a large population and political clout.

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  5. Can’t you people understand that Cuba has too large a population and Cayman is too small to accept such a large exodus. I’m convinced that the majority of you in this forum have nothing good in mind for the Cayman Islands and that you want to see it destroyed by too much immigration.
    You should be ashamed of yourselves. Why not send them to your country?Tell us how they feel. then again maybe the countries you come from are large enough to hold them and not have too much impact on that society. Cayman is too small for all these demands you people are making. stop the madness.

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  6. @ Liverpool

    LOL… BUSTED! :-))

    Dont know who you are, but what is the purpose of creating a small issue into a larger issue by both your contradictory comments?

    LOL… REALLY… Mr. Editor, I dont know… 2 personalities under on handle name.

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  7. To Bold move : Why is it you have to mention Jamaicans? Understandably many people dislike Jamaicans for one reason or the other. However have you ever seen any boat loads of Jamaicans on Cayman shore? I don’t remember seeing one. Have you ever seen any Jamaican begging for asylum in Cayman? Never so if you have a personal hate for Jamaicans keep that in your heart and get a bad heart out of it.Dont take things out of context. There are many nationalities here some of whom are naturalised Caymanians and second and third generations of jamaicans and many Caymanians of Jamaican descent.WE need to be tolerant. It was intolerance that caused the death of 6 million Jews in the Nazi concentration camps. It was intolerance that caused ethnic clensing in Bosnea, Yugaslovia and czeckoslovicia. The world has changed you will have to live with different people in harmony the world is becoming a melting pot of nations and Cayman is in the world and we going to have to live together in unity. I would’nt even mention that we are still a colony and under the UK who is under the EEC who is under the Human Rights ACT, and International Conventions on Human Rights and dignity and subject to the European Courts of Human Rights.So , unless Cayman is going to throw off its colonial yoke and go independent of the UK and set up itself as a republic and exclude foreigners and particularly Jamaicans you will have to live with people who originated in other countries. Again , are we going to stop our women from marrying foreign men or indeed our men from marrying foreign women? Again ,I don’t think so.even if we managed to set up an exclusive republic we have to deal with outsiders in trade,imports andd technology and other areas because we don’t produce much ,do we?. Live and let live and be happy man.

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