The immigration authorities of the United States have revealed this week that since the last quarter of last year, Cuba has not been receiving the Cubans who have been placed on the deportation list of the Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
As he commented this Thursday to OnCuba According to an ICE official, the entity has in its custody just over 40,000 people in that situation, most of them former criminals who have completed their sentences, but who have been ordered deported by immigration judges.
Although the majority of these detainees are still former Marielitos, who came to the United States through the El Mariel sea bridge in the summer of 1980, some arrived by other routes and at other times, and later committed crimes, largely drug-related. Since their crimes are classified as “major” and they are not US citizens, the law requires that they be deported.
For decades, the United States has deported people in this category, after submitting the names to Cuba before putting them on a plane, on commercial or government flights, but this program has always been very slow. The average number of deportees rarely exceeded 10 per flight, although there have been flights of more than a hundred.
This program began in the 1990s with an agreement signed between the two countries, but was reinforced in 2017 in the last days of the Barack Obama administration.
The return of other Cubans, such as those intercepted on the high seas by the Coast Guard, does not occur by air but by sea through the Bay of Cabañas, on the north Cuban coast.
“ICE indicates that its removal statistics include voluntary returns, voluntary departures and withdrawals (deportations),” the entity said in a statement, in which it specified that until March 26 there were more than 40,000 Cubans with an expulsion order issued by an immigration judge.
However, in the last two weeks the Coast Guard has returned more than 120 people to Cuba who were arrested at sea in 17 different interdictions. Last Friday 70 people were repatriated and another 55 on Monday. In other words, those that are normally sent by air are apparently the only ones that are not being received by Cuba at the moment.
“It is not clear why they have stopped receiving deportees. But the American government has told us that they will have to wait,” explained lawyer Armando García. In this regard, no official pronouncements are known from the island’s authorities.
According to ICE told the agency EFESo far in fiscal year 2022, since last October, Cuba has not accepted any deportation of Cubans through commercial or charter flights from US territory. During this time, only 20 Cubans have voluntarily returned to the island by air.
For comparison, during fiscal year 2021 (from October 1, 2020 to September 30, 2021), ICE managed to deport 95 Cubans.