The Immigration Department announced on Friday that 11 Cuban migrants are in the care of its Cayman Brac officers after being spotted near the Brac around 10 a.m. that morning.
According to the announcement, the group consists of nine males and two females, who say they were at sea for six days. Among the group are two repeat migrants.
The vessel was hailed by Immigration and Customs officers, who determined there was a hazard to those on board. An image of the vessel shared by the department depicted five men struggling with the wooden boat near shore. “For safety reasons the boat and its occupants were towed to shore, whereupon it promptly sank,” the announcement stated.
The Immigration Department did not state where the migrants are being held. They were expected to be checked by doctors in Cayman Brac before being processed by Immigration officers and moved to Grand Cayman.
A government press release did not specify where the migrants would be housed in Grand Cayman or if they would be held at the Immigration Detention Centre at Fairbanks.
Thirteen Cuban asylum seekers who had been housed at the facility – in some cases for upwards of two years – were transferred in July to community housing. At this time, Immigration indicated it had “agreed to review the continued detention of the migrants” and was implementing the supervised, community release program as an alternative.
Although the detention center is now being eyed as an overflow facility for Cayman’s crowded prisons, the Human Rights Commission flagged concerns about the facility in July.
Commission Chairman James Austin-Smith urged Her Majesty’s Prisons Service to respond, stating: “Due to the extensive nature of the unsanitary conditions, the government must take steps to rectify this situation.”