A group of Cuban migrants who have been drifting in a makeshift boat off the coast of Grand Cayman for nearly two weeks were given a deadline by local immigration authorities to make for the open sea or face detention.
The group of more than 30 boaters, that first turned up off Colliers Beach in East End on June 14, had made their way along the south coast to South Sound by early Wednesday – some 11 days after they first arrived.
The makeshift boat was assisted by local residents along the way who helped the Cubans make repairs and supplied them with food and water.
On Wednesday, Acting Chief Immigration Officer Bruce Smith said the department gave the migrants a deadline that day to head out or be taken into custody.
“We can’t just let them float around out there forever,” Mr. Smith said.
As of Wednesday morning, 10 of the Cubans had elected to stay behind to be repatriated and more than 20 were continuing on their journey.
The Cubans blamed poor sea conditions for delaying their journey to Honduras, according to immigration officials.
Taking all the Cubans into custody as illegal migrants would double the number of migrants already being held in the George Town Immigration Detention Centre awaiting repatriation to Cuba, Mr. Smith said.
Months-long delays with repatriation to Cuba have been blamed by the migrants for a number of recent escapes from immigration detention.