Wednesday, June 29, 2011

U.S.: Some non-Mariel Cubans can be deported

Posted on Wednesday, 06.29.11

U.S.: Some non-Mariel Cubans can be deported

U.S. immigration officials said a list of deportable Cubans includes
some who didn't arrive in the 1980 Mariel boatlift.

Cubans convicted of crimes in the United States who arrived before and
after the 1980 Mariel exodus have been deported to their homeland
because their names surprisingly appear in a 27-year-old repatriation
agreement list.

This week, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokeswoman
in Washington confirmed the 1984 list of names of Cubans who can be
returned to the island includes some who did not arrive during the 1980

"The 1984 accord contains the names of convicted Cuban criminals who
arrived in the U.S. pre- and post-Mariel," said Barbara Gonzalez, the
ICE press secretary in Washington.

The issue is important because for years Cuban exiles have been told
only Mariel-era convicts on the list would be deported to Cuba. All
others would not be returned, they were told by immigration attorneys
and activists, because the Cuban government would not accept non-Mariel

The original list named 2,746 deportables. Today, only 665 of those
remain in the U.S.

This marks the first time since the 1984 agreement was announced during
the Reagan administration that U.S. officials say the repatriation list
includes non-Mariel Cubans. The disclosure came as a result of a story
in El Nuevo Herald and The Miami Herald Monday that examined the cases
of at least three non-Mariel Cubans who had been deported to Cuba in the
last five years. "The community has always been led to believe that in
order to be on the list you had to have an order of exclusion prior to
the approval of the list in 1984," said Miami immigration attorney
Grisel Ybarra, who represents one of the man recently deported.

The repatriation list is the result of U.S. pressures on Cuba to take
back Mariel migrants on the ground that they were criminals or had
committed and been convicted of crimes.

In Miami-Dade, the disclosure came as a surprise to immigration
attorneys and to activists who have been deeply involved with Mariel
issues for decades.

Rafael Peñalver, a Miami attorney who led negotiations that ended the
1987 Atlanta and Oakdale Mariel prison uprisings, said that until now
everyone familiar with Mariel matters had assumed that the list was made
up exclusively of Mariel-era convicts. But he acknowledged that U.S.
officials never really explained in detail who was on the list — which
remains secret.

"I remember asking then- U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese if the
repatriation list included other Cubans who had not arrived during
Mariel and he told me that he couldn't reveal to me who was on the
list," Peñalver said Tuesday in a telephone interview. "We assumed that
only people who arrived during Mariel were on the list, but they never
said specifically."

Peñalver said that three successive attorneys general reassured him that
the deportation of non-Mariel Cubans was not a step being contemplated
by the federal government.

ICE officials would not say from what specific periods individuals
before and after Mariel are included in the list .

Non-Mariel Cubans deported in the last two years include a man who
arrived in 1979 and another who arrived in 1981.

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