A group of 21 Cuban migrants who were detained at the Immigration Detention Centre have been repatriated to Cuba.
The group was supervised by Immigration and Prison officials and left on a chartered flight from Owen Roberts International Airport on Tuesday.
Six Cuban migrants remain at the center, including two women. Five men who arrived on Cayman Brac on July 20 and requested repatriation will be moved shorty to the Immigration Detention Centre off Fairbanks Road.
The group forms part of hundreds of Cuban migrants who arrive in Cayman on their way to the U.S. every year. Since June, more than 100 Cuban migrants have landed in Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac’s coastal waters.
Cuban migrants who enter the Cayman Islands are held at the detention center while they wait for their paperwork to be processed. Detained migrants are transported back to Cuba in line with a memorandum of understanding between Cuba and the Cayman Islands.
During the 2013/14 fiscal year, the cost of housing, feeding and caring for the migrants in Cayman was more than $500,000.
Repatriation to Cuba has been taking an average of two or three months, a delay responsible for the backlash in May when a group of Cubans threatened to burn down the immigration detention center.
During the disturbance, one of the migrants jumped the fence and escaped before being recaptured by prison officers, and a second man climbed up onto the roof armed with rocks. The center also recorded an attempted suicide involving one of the migrants earlier this month.
There have been a number of escape attempts from the center this year, including more than two dozen migrants who ran from the center in the middle of the afternoon on March 17. All except one were picked up immediately by enforcement officials.
A group of 13 escaped on April 16, with 10 captured immediately.
Deputy Chief Immigration Officer Gary Wong told the Cayman Compass earlier this month sources in Cuba believe the boats being used by Cuban migrants are built somewhere about 90 miles north of Cayman.
Mr. Wong said immigration officials had received information that the boat building was financed by Cuban migrants’ families who live in the U.S.
Under United Nations conventions, migrants are allowed to make an application for asylum in the Cayman Islands. However, most migrants do not qualify for the application.