Cuban rafters in legal limbo

21 Cuban immigrants made it 84 miles in a rickety boat in their bid to get to the United States but may have missed out by a few miles. The group is currently in a form of legal limbo on a Caribbean ship in US Coast Guard custody as they wait for a federal Miami judge to decide whether the US immigration policy specifically regarding Cubans applies to them.

On a Tuesday afternoon, a federal lawsuit on behalf of the immigrants was filed by Ramon Saul Sanchez. The key question facing the judge is whether a lighthouse counts as US soil, per the immigration policy that says any Cubans who make it to US soil must be allowed to stay, while those caught at sea can be sent back home. On Friday, the group of immigrants was found hanging from the lighthouse, known as “American Shoal”, which sits around six miles to the south of Sugarloaf Key, which is close to Florida’s Key West.

Because the Cuban Adjustment Act means that undocumented immigrants from Cuba, unlike those from other nations, are automatically considered to be refugees, they are allowed to stay in the United States and receive permanent green cards after just a year in the country, though an influx of new immigrants has been triggered by fears that the Act may soon be scrapped.

Those fears may not be unjustified, with a new bill in the House of Representatives and the Senate, sponsored by Representative Carlos Curbelo and Senator Marco Rubio respectively, hoping to rescind the policy.