Thursday, April 21, 2011

Cubans facing deportation now must report to ICE in Broward

Posted on Wednesday, 04.20.11

Cubans facing deportation now must report to ICE in Broward

Cubans and others facing deportation must travel further to do regular
check-ins with federal authorities.

Like thousands of other Cuban exiles facing deportation, Mauricio Suarez
has had to report his whereabouts regularly to federal immigration

An official would come to his Miami home once a month to personally
verify that Suarez was living there. It was convenient for Suarez, 55,
to comply with his supervised release requirement since he suffers from
a liver disease that makes it difficult to travel long distances.

That convenience has ended.

As of last month, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) changed
the way thousands of Cubans facing deportation comply with immigration
rules. ICE now requires Miami residents to travel across county lines to
a Miramar office the check in.

For those like Suarez who are ill or have no vehicle or relatives to
drive them, the long trek to Miramar appears impossible.

"If I had to go there once a year, for example, that would be doable,''
Suarez said in an interview at his home in Little Havana on Tuesday.
"But if they want me to go there every month or more frequently, it's
going to be a major problem.''

ICE would not discuss Suarez's case, but did confirm that foreign
nationals with deportation orders but not in detention must now report
to Miramar. Before, they had to report their whereabouts at an old
immigration building at 79th Street and Biscayne Boulevard. In September
2008, ICE began relocating its case management unit from Biscayne
Boulevard to the Krome detention center.

Then, in March 2011, ICE moved its case management unit moved again to
the Miramar office. Presently, Krome serves detainees. Miramar serves
non-detained deportees.

Suarez' troubles began in 2001 when he was accused of stealing thousands
of dollars in rent money from a building he administered.

Though he denied the charge and wanted to go to trial, Suarez said his
attorney ultimately convinced him to plead guilty in exchange for a
reduced sentence.

By pleading guilty, Suarez, who has been in the United States since
1960, became a target for deportation. Immigration law mandates that
foreign nationals convicted of aggravated felonies be put in deportation

Though more than 30,000 Cuban exiles have been ordered deported from the
United States, fewer than 3,000 actually have been removed since the 1980s.

The Cubans who have been deported are mostly Mariel refugees who arrived
during the 1980 boatlift. Under an agreement between the Cuban
government and the Reagan administration in 1984, some 2,740 Mariel
Cubans can be removed. Less than 900 Mariel Cubans remain to be deported.

All other Cuban exiles with deportation orders have not been removed
because the Cuban government, in general, refuses to take them back and
the United States has in place an informal policy of not deporting Cubans.

U.S. officials have repeatedly said that removals of Cubans would begin
once democracy reigns in Cuba.

Cubans are ordered deported largely for the same reasons as other
foreign nationals in the United States, when they are convicted of a crime.

Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center (FIAC) is reviewing Suarez' case.
Oscar Alvarez, a FIAC staffer, publicized the case in hopes to
persuading ICE to be more lenient in reporting requirements for
immigrants like Suarez who have illnesses, are disabled or have
difficulty finding transportation for long trips beyond Miami-Dade.

Many of these immigrants have no car and travel mainly on bicycles or by

How often Suarez may have to report to Miramar remains to be seen. His
first appointment there is now set for 9 a.m. on May 11.

"I imagine they'll let me know that day how often I will have to
report,'' he said.

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