Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Court to decide whether Cubans on lighthouse in Florida Keys had ‘dry feet’

Court to decide whether Cubans on lighthouse in Florida Keys had 'dry feet'

Attorneys filed an emergency motion in federal court in Miami asking for
clarification on whether 21 Cuban migrants are eligible for U.S. entry
under the wet foot/dry foot policy.

The Democracy Movement on Tuesday filed an emergency motion seeking
clarification on whether a group of Cuban migrants who climbed a
lighthouse in the Florida Key are eligible for entry to the United
States under a policy known as wet foot/dry foot.

"We made an emergency motion to compel declaratory and injunctive relief
regarding the lighthouse status for the federal judge to decide whether
the lighthouse is or is not the United States territory," immigration
attorney Virlenys H. Palma said.

"Allegedly the lighthouse was maintained by the Coast Guard," she said
at a press conference outside the federal courthouse in downtown Miami.
"We're providing all the pictures and all the history of the lighthouse
that it stayed where it is...and is managed by the U.S."

The lawyer is part of a team that is representing 21 Cuban migrants who
were intercepted at sea on Friday near the Florida Keys. When a U.S.
Coast Guard cutter approached, the migrants dove into the water.

Initial reports indicated that 19 climbed onto the American Shoal
lighthouse seven miles off Sugarloaf Key. Attorneys said an additional
two also made it to the lighthouse but then swam to the cutter before
the remaining 19 ultimately turned themselves in, as well.

"That is our understanding that initially all 21 of them made it to the
lighthouse. Then two of them, as they saw the Coast Guard approaching,
jumped into the water," Palma said.

Palma said the team is relying on a 2006 Seven Mile Bridge case, in
which 15 migrants made it to parts of the bridge. A federal judge ruled
that the bridge was U.S. territory and the migrants qualified for entry
under the wet foot/dry foot policy.

The motion is an attempt to prevent the Coast Guard from returning the
21 migrants to Cuba or, if they were already repatriated, to bring them
back and let them apply for a legal status in the U.S.

"We don't even know they're still here or if they are back in Cuba
already," Palma said.

Coast Guard officials have said the migrants are on the cutter awaiting
a decision from immigration authorities on their fate.

The attorneys said they currently have the names of six migrants listed
on the motion identified by some 40 relatives in South Florida, who have
vowed take them in. Names of the remaining migrants can be added later,
they said.

The number of Cuban migrants fleeing the island continues to increase,
reaching levels not seen in a decade.

Source: Court to decide whether Cubans on lighthouse in Florida Keys had
'dry feet' | In Cuba Today -

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