CIG aims to speed up Cuban deportation

| 23/09/2014

(CNS): The deputy governor is hopeful that a new memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Cuban government will deter migrants from trying to leave the country illegally and save the Cayman government money. A new agreement between the Cuban and local authorities, which is expected to be finalized shortly, aims to speed up the deportation process of Cubans who land in Cayman as they attempt the treacherous journey across the ocean, usually to a Central American country. Cayman has experienced a surge in migrants that are forced or who have opted to land here. But despite the increase in Cubans being detained, their repatriation has been taking longer and longer, causing security and cost problems for CIG.

Manderson, who led a five man delegation to Havana, Cuba, last week, said the talks with Cayman’s neighbour were" very productive” and covered a number of issues, in particular speeding up the process for the return of the illegal Cuban migrants.

The deputy governor said the two groups of officials discussed strengthening the mechanisms for preventing and combating irregular migration, as well as preserving the legitimacy of legal migration and observance of the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter. An MOU has been drafted and Manderson said there would be more discussion through diplomatic channels before it is finalised.

“We are confident that the new MOU will better facilitate the return of illegal Cuban migrants from the Cayman Islands, largely due to, among other things, a significant reduction in processing time,” the deputy governor said on his return from the three day Cuban trip. “This should deter illegal migration from Cuba and, consequently, also reduce costs to the CI Government incurred in detaining and maintaining the migrants.” 

During the 2013/14 budget year the government exceeded its budget for detaining and processing Cuban migrants, leading to an increased allocation in the 2014/15 spending plan. The authorities also had to deal with a number of security breaches at the detention centre where refugees and migrants were being held. The security of the Fairbanks Detention Centre was eventually handed over to the prison after private security employed there proved unable to handle the growing numbers and prevent a near riot and numerous break-outs.

Despite changes in Cuba, the economic realities as well as the remaining political challenges drive many people to leave the country at great risk. The ultimate destination for most is the United States and the authorities there say they have dealt with the highest number of migrants this year for a decade.

The journey that these migrants take in makeshift vessels through shark infested waters is extremely treacherous and many die on the way. Earlier this month 14 Cuban migrants were rescued by the Mexican navy off the Yucatan peninsula badly sunburned and dehydrated after three weeks adrift at sea. The migrants, who have now been given permission to remain in the country by the Mexican authorities on humanitarian grounds, were without food and had survived by drinking rain water. They were understood to have left eastern Cuba on 7 August in a homemade boat but the engine broke down and the refugees rigged a makeshift sail. 15 people were said to have died during the trip and two more died after they were rescued.

Many of the refugees that land or pass through Cayman have tried several times before and even when they are deported they rarely give up their goal to one day reach the US, where under the 'wet foot-dry foot' policy they can remain once they step onto US soil. If they are picked up by the US Coast Guard while still at sea they are repatriated. As a result most head for the Central American nations by boat and then to the US border overland.

Because of Cayman’s proximity to Cuba many of the migrants stop here on their journey to Honduras and under Cayman policy if they land and need help they are treated as illegal migrants and repatriated.

It has not been made clear by the CIG why the process of repatriation had encountered so many delays in recent months but the premier had stated the problems were in Havana, hence the need for the delegation to renegotiate the MOU.

The delegation from Cayman headed up by the Deputy Governor included Attorney General Samuel Bulgin, Deputy Chief Officer in the Ministry of Home Affairs Wesley Howell, Chief Immigration Officer Linda Evans and the deputy governor’s office representative, Patricia Stoll.

They met with the Cuban Ambassador Rafael Dausá Céspedes, Director of Consular Affairs and Cuban Residents Abroad in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who led the five-member Cuban delegation involved in the talks. 

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Can't we trade some of our home grown gangsters for some decent Cuban or other country's  refugees. The incoming people will work hard and be an asset to our country. The outgoing people wouldn't be missed. except by their families and it seems that they don't exist to help their supposedly troubled or deprived brethren otherwise we wouldn'have the current problem in the first place.

  2. Inspector Clouseau says:

    A lot of times the authors of these comments rearly know the facts that goes along with an article like this. 

    Sending a Cuban home is not as easy as sending a Jamaican home. The Cuban Gov has to approve such return. The second a vessel filled with Cubans lands on our shore (if they choose to stay/or vessel is damaged) the Imm Dept has 7days to notify the Cubab Gov and send all names with DOB and addresses respectively for screening. The waiting starts there, when Cuban say you can bring then you can,not before. Should they (Imm Dept) try to be smart and go without approval, they will be returned, no questions asked.

    This trip isn't about going there to discourage anyone from leaving Cuba, it's simply to get waiting period for the repatriation to be much quicker. That's what sends the cost of housing & maintaining these people up and to be burden on the CI Gov purse. Sometimes they wait in excess of 2-3 months.

  3. Anonymous says:

    CUBA is free………..

  4. Anonymous says:

    FIVE MAN DELEGATION? Government spending at its best!

  5. Anonymous says:

    CIG need to speed up employment for the unemployed Caymanians, who are suffering.

    • Anonymous says:

      Its not all about you poor unhireable, lazy, persons who make all the hard working Caymanians look bad.

  6. anonymous says:

    I do not understand the purpose of this trip. If the purpose of this trip was to shorten immiration processing time we should have been able to do that from this end and do to the Cubans what we do to the Jamaicans, round them up and put them on a flight  and send them home.  

    If the purpose was to discourage Cubans not to leave their Country then once again it was a waste of our Country's resources. It is not our business to discourge anyone from fleeing a broken country, run by the maniacs called the "Castro's". We will soon need to discourage our own people from fleeing this broken country.

    I thought we were going to Cuban to tell the "Castros' that we could no longer afford to be their marine patrol and immigration nd  that any Cuban that landed  would be given food, water, gas and sent on thier way.

    Cuba does NOT abide by any International Conventions,so why should they expect their Laws to be respected?

    Shame on you Cayman Islands Government! You can't afford to take care of your own but you can afford to be the "Castros" marine police and immigration.


    • Anonymous says:

      Your country is allready keeping people here its called immigration enforcement

      Do you know how many passports immigration holds?     MANY I know of at least 12  people that they have taken passports away from and over half of those have not been charged with anything, ongoing investigations is the reason.

      That said quite a few of those are happy to be forced to stay because now they are entitled to Govt services. free electric food medicine schooling for kids etc.

      Thus if you want to stay in cayman get in trouble for an immigration violation report yourself for working outside your permit terms, immigration is required to investigate it and take your passport …Thus you will be able to stay an extra 2-4 years if not more until you get to court.

      Now about the cubans they are sent back to cuba and sent to a labor camp for a long time


  7. Anonymous says:

    One day my country will return to be the jewel of the Caribbean as it was in the 50s

    • Anonymous says:

      Just as a pedantic side-note: "jewel of the Caribbean" I believe, was coined by Patrick Fermor in his 1950 book "The Traveller's Tree". Ironically, and sadly, he was describing Haiti.

    • Anonymous says:

        Which country are you from?

    • Anonymous says:

      13:30, I think you are confusing Haiti and Cayman.

      Cayman will soon return to the "island that time forgot" for definate, just look at what is going on around you, we are soon going to implode.

  8. Slowpoke says:

    Want to save money?  Give them some water, food and gas, at the same time respecting their human rights.

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree. These people do not want to remain in Grand Cayman, they are asking for water and food to assist them in continuing their journey. The people are being persecuted in their country. What has happened to the Caymanian hospitality? Someone needs to stand up to our leaders and ask those questions.