Thirty-eight Cuban migrants intercepted near the US Virgin Islands in late April are stranded aboard the Coast Guard vessel Vigilant, awaiting Cuba’s permission to return home.
The Cuban migrants have been refused entry to Cuba because their return does not conform with a repatriation agreement with the US, said an official who spoke to AP on the condition of anonymity.
The 38 were among 96 migrants who were taken aboard the Coast Guard cutter.
The Coast Guard repatriated 58 Cuban migrants to Bahia de Cabanas, Cuba on Wednesday.
The US-Cuba Immigration Accord of 1994, commonly referred to as “wet-foot, dry-foot” policy, allows Cuban citizens the right to remain in the United States if they make it to US soil and paves the way to a residence permit and eventual citizenship.
However Cuban citizens intercepted at sea are sent back to Cuba unless the US Citizenship and Immigration Service determines they have a well-founded fear of persecution and grants them asylum.
According to a statement made by the Coast Guard 7th District, since Oct. 1 an estimated “1,759 Haitians, 2,460 Cubans and 321 Dominicans have attempted to illegally migrate via the sea. These numbers represent the total amount of at-sea interdictions, landings and disruptions in the Florida Straits, the Caribbean and Atlantic.”