Cubans still on the run, as migrant numbers surge

| 11/02/2016 | 26 Comments
Cayman News service

Cuban migrants on Cayman Brac, file photo

(CNS): Immigration authorities are battling to cope with the surge in Cubans arriving in Cayman, with another vessel currently stranded in local waters. There are already more than 120 migrants held in various locations across Grand Cayman, as the main Fairbanks detention centre is full, and two are still on the run. On Tuesday officers from the immigration department rounded up the last of seven migrants who had escaped on Friday from the East End Civic Centre, which is being used to detain the latest arrivals. Over the last six weeks 122 Cuban migrants have landed in Cayman.

Officials said today that 123 Cubans are in custody and another 17 are on a makeshift vessel in local waters, waiting out bad weather.

Two Cuban men who went missing from a landing site at Beach Bay at the end of last month are still at large. Immigration officials urged members of the public not to approach suspected missing migrants and if they see anything suspicious, to contact the authorities.

Acknowledging the strong local support for the migrants, officials nevertheless said that international law prohibits the Cayman Islands from facilitating illegal migration. This extends to the public assisting migrants, on land or in local waters, with food, shelter, transportation or other forms of comfort.

The authorities said that all migrants who come ashore are detained pending a repatriation process and the Cayman Islands Government is responsible for ensuring that they are able to access resources necessary for their health and wellbeing while in custody. This includes food, clothes and medical treatment.

“All rights and privileges are extended to these migrants according to local and international laws and conventions,” said Acting Chief Immigration Officer Bruce Smith, who is handling the migration problems at a time when numbers are soaring.

The immigration department notes that the restriction on assistance is in part due to the dangerous and potentially fatal journey such individuals face. In 2014 the United Nations estimated that 73 migrants had gone missing in the Caribbean area. International organisations believe the 2015 number to be higher due to increased migrant travel.

Nevertheless, the exit from Cuba continues. In January last year, one migrant drowned just yards from safety when the boat he was in capsized off the coast of South Sound. Most of the migrants are hoping to reach the US and usually pass through Cayman waters en route to Honduras and then overland to the American border.

Given the extremely poor state of most migrant vessels, many Cubans braving the journey find themselves stranded in and around Cayman.

The Immigration Detention Centre is currently at full capacity and some migrants are being housed in the Bodden Town and East End civic centres and other locations, where officers from the prison service and the immigration department are overseeing the detainees.

Since the current financial year began in July, the Cayman government has spent an estimated CI$870,000 on migrants. Officials said that 52 migrants have already been repatriated this year under the terms of the MOU it has with Cuba.

Immigration officials urge members of the public not to approach people they suspect to be a missing migrant but to contact 911, immigration enforcement officers or the nearest police station at these numbers:

Emergency Communications

Immigration Enforcement:
Jeremy Scott- ‎526-7937
Joey Scott- 526-0433
Garry Wong‎- 526-0480

RCIPS – District Police Stations
George Town- 949-4222
Bodden Town- 649-2220
East End- 649-7411
North Side- 649-9411
West Bay- 649-3999

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Category: Crime, Immigration, Local News

Comments (26)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The situation is out of control. There is a Security business that is profiting handsomely by this influx and detention of the Cubans. They also profit from selling products to the CI Government that are not working as should. Does anyone really believe that this is not in part big businesss. Check the numbers and do the math.

  2. The Country With No Plan and No Heart says:

    I have been waiting for the “anonymous” hateful, hates everything and everyone blogger to respond. No answer. He or she has either moved on to “bashing” and posting other “ignorance” and “disgraceful” comments on another topic. But I am grateful that in their ignorance, their honesty let’s the world know what a horrible set of people we are. Because we are!

  3. Anonymous says:

    If we want this to slow down or stop then let’s start arresting the smugglers; the ones who are dropping them off in Cayman waters.Just ask officials how many ‘so called refugees’ have been here multiple times, repatriated only to show up on a future boatload.If these persons are subject to imprisonment when they are repatriated, then how is this possible,unless perhaps the smugglers are all Government agents.

  4. The Country with No Plan and no Heart says:

    I cannot believe that a “God Fearing” Country and people – as we say we are – would be so heartless, so uncaring for the plight of suffering people. Cuba is a country we visit for fun, we go to for medical services and country that we have relatives in. Isle of Youth are Caymanian descendants. Sir Vassel Johnson came here from Cuba and set the foundation for our financial services industry. Yet we hound them like animals and repatriate them for the Castro’s at our expense because it is International Rights? Why? Cuba don’t abide by International Rights! Why should we?

    • Jotnar says:

      I find it somewhat surprising that the country that is so hostile to expatriates wanting to stay thinks that it is un Christian not to welcome Cubans. You do realize the whole do not assist policy is based on the fear that if we did there would be an avalanche of Cubans seeking asylum here? And if they can claim a justifiable fear of persecution in Cuba, they get to stay for good, right? Still want to put out the welcome mat?

  5. Anonymous says:

    Here is another situation that is raising questions. The issue surrounding the Security at the Detention Centre is on going. This was contracted out to the Security Centre and the Cubans were constantly running a wild escaping rioting without any explanations on why there was a failure in the services provided. The Security Centre is still on the job it appears but how they are being deployed is a question as the situation reached a boiling point at which time the Prision took over the command of Security. Now there are reports again of the Cubans being housed detained etc at Community Centers with private contracting being awarded. This situation along with the CCTV has made the Security Centre very profitable by the public purse with little to no oversight and repeated lack of performing sucessfully what is required. How does this happen? Mr. Eric Bush is almost always involved as this is his Portfolio. Even if not directly at the helm of the usage of the Security Centre, his charge , are. He is the Manager in essence. He either is delerict of his duties, is poor at his Portfolio and the Managing of it, or is simply allowing this blantent lack of performance to escalate to the threshold that it begs an official investigation and inquiry as something appears/seems amiss. The problem with this is that alot of Law Enforcement Agencies fall under in some form his Portfolio. There is an issue with this. This almost appears to be an impossible situation when you have an apparent delay in reporting and no reasonable conclusion to the drugs going missing at the Central Police Station with many of the same Players involved.

  6. GR says:

    Garry Wrong back on duty? Whatever happened to his charges?

    • Anonymous says:

      He is waiting for Linda Evans and John Bodden to get through the process. So about another 3-4 years and we should see them all get off with slap on the wrist.

    • Anonymous says:

      The Govt is waiting on the expat XXXXX to be rolled over And not the same way he was rolled over before. It’s been well over 2 years December of 13 since the incident Cayman style justice happens when the victim leaves

  7. Anonymous says:

    Who is refunding $850,000 to the Cayman Islands Government? If there is money to spend, please spend it on the needs of the Caymanoans, who are jobless and in dire need.

    • Anonymous says:

      Exactly. Even if people are so hard-hearted as to not want to help these people, if we’d just help them with BASIC human needs such as food, water and fuel, think of the savings to us (not the government, because those dollars come from US).

      If there is a MOU between Cuba and the Cayman Islands, then Cuba needs to pay for the repatriation. Otherwise, help them as needed and God bless their safe passage.

    • Anonymous says:

      Just did that at the Christmas clean up hon.

  8. Anonymous says:

    How much is this costing the country? a few months ago we were told by the deputy governor that there was a new deal and repatriation would be much faster sounds like that’s not happening.

    • Bill says:

      If the people of cayman brac and east end had listened to our Deputy Governor we would not be in this mess. He has been saying for years that the so call helping the cubans with food water and fuel would only encourage more cubans to come. They didn’t listen now look what is happening .I hope the same public who was so happy to give the Cuban supplies when they arrived in their sinking boats are also providing the cubans at the detention center with supplies.

      • Anonymous says:

        Bite me, Bill

      • Anonymous says:

        You seem to be out of touch. The DG’s policy is being followed that’s why we have ended up with the detention centres full. The old way was that those who could continue did so. Proud of “the people of cayman brac and east end” for helping out their fellow man in need and saving the government thousands of dollars.

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes, bite me also, Bill. There was a time when people of the Sister Islands could openly help. Then, in recent times, they could not do so. Did the number of Cubans fleeing Cuba ever decrease? No, they did not. Your conclusions are based on rancor and not reality. Also, the DG has been following policy established prior to his appointment. You want to know what he THINKS, go ask him; he might tell you if he thinks you have the capacity to understand.

      • Crab Claw says:

        Yes Bill, the People of EE and CB will always do what is morally right, let us spell it out to you “we will help any other human in need”, worry bout you or the DG.

      • Anonymous says:

        Oh, and Bill? You can stop dinging the troll button now. Nobody is fooled.

      • Tib says:

        Thank you Bill you are so correct. Tell the People who want to bite you to go help feed and guard the cubans that they encouraged to come. Shame on you East end and cayman. Brac for sending people to their death in unsafe boats. But oh wait that’s the humane thing to do.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Caymanians and all other Cayman residents (who supposedly base their entire Constitution on Christian values) must simply asking themselves ‘What would Jesus do?’.

    If they expect to meet their Maker and say ‘well, I looked the other way’, then there’s a guy with a red hot thermometer waiting for them!

    SHAME ON YOU!!!!

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