Cuban migrants climb down from lighthouse near Key West
The 19 Cuban migrants climbed down from the American Shoal lighthouse
off Sugarloaf Key on Friday evening
U.S. Customs will determine whether they can stay in the United States
or will be returned to Cuba
It's unclear whether the migrants will be allowed to stay under the
wet-foot, dry-foot immigration policy on Cuba
BY EMILY COCHRANE
AND DAVID GOODHUE
The 19 Cuban migrants straddled atop the American Shoal lighthouse off
Sugarloaf Key have come down and are being processed by immigration
officials, Coast Guard officials said Friday afternoon.
The migrants climbed down from the 109-foot structure around 5:30 p.m.
Earlier in the day, the migrants had swum to the lighthouse after the
Coast Guard approached their makeshift boat in the waters off Sugarloaf.
The Coast Guard confronted the boaters early Friday morning after
receiving an 8 a.m. telephone call from a boater who had noticed the
migrants in their vessel, said Chief Petty Officer Ryan Doss, spokesman
for the U.S. Coast Guard 7th District.
As the Coast Guard approached the boat, 19 migrants jumped off and swam
to the lighthouse, which was built in 1880 and sits about five miles off
shore from Sugarloaf. They climbed the lighthouse's metal stilts.
Meanwhile, two other migrants swam to the Coast Guard cutter.
Officials from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services were in the
process of screening the 21 migrants on a Coast Guard cutter Friday
evening to determine whether they will remain in the United States or be
returned to Cuba.
"Typically, migrants taken at sea are returned to their country of
origin,'' Doss said. "But there are special circumstances — like fear of
persecution" that come into play.
It's not clear if the lighthouse would be considered land under the U.S.
immigration policy of wet-foot, dry-foot. The policy, stipulated under
1995 changes to the Cuban Adjustment Act, allows Cubans who step foot on
U.S. soil to stay here and apply for permanent residency after a year.
The lighthouse sits in the water.
David Goodhue is a reporter for KeysInfoNet.
Source: Cuban migrants climb down from lighthouse near Key West | In
Cuba Today - http://www.incubatoday.com/news/article78866957.html