26 Cuban refugees arrived in the Florida Keys possibly being smuggled into the U.S. via a migrant-smuggling operation this past Friday.
Under the ‘wet foot-dry foot policy’ any undocumented Cuban migrant who makes it to land in the U.S. is allowed to stay and can apply for permanent residence after living in the U.S. for more than a year. However, any undocumented Cuban migrant capture at sea will be sent back to Cuba.
The 26 refugees found ashore near Newfound Harbor is the largest group to make it to the U.S. thus far in 2012. During 2011, 985 Cuban migrants were captured at sea and returned while 696 reached land. However another 5,000 Cuban migrants entered the U.S. via the Mexican border and were allowed to stay and avoid deportation.
A speedboat that is believed to have smuggled the 26 boat refugees was spotted in the area but was not captured.