Posted on Tuesday, 03.04.14
Three Cuban rafters reached U.S. soil Tuesday near Key Biscayne, but two
left the scene before immigration authorities arrived and seized one of
the migrants, people familiar with the case said.
A Customs and Border Protection official said the sole rafter that
Border Patrol agents took into custody at Virginia Key was in good
condition. The official said the Cuban told authorities that shortly
after landing his two companions had left the area.
The whereabouts of the other two migrants were not known. While there
was an initial search for the two unaccounted for migrants, later U.S.
officials said Cuban rafters who have family in South Florida sometimes
do not wait for authorities to detain them. They leave the scene of a
landing, make their way to relatives’ homes and subsequently report
themselves to the Border Patrol.
Cuban migrants who reach U.S. land generally do not hide from
authorities because the law allows them to stay and apply for a green
card after more than a year in the country.
Under the wet-foot/dry-foot policy, Cuban migrants intercepted at sea
are generally sent back to Cuba, but those who make it to U.S. soil are
allowed to stay.
People familiar with Tuesday’s case, including the CBP officials and
witnesses who interviewed by Miami police, said the episode unfolded
The three migrants were aboard a flimsy homemade boat that broke down
and was adrift off Key Biscayne.
A local fisherman sighted them Tuesday morning, rescued them and then
brought them to shore on the eastern side of Virginia Key.
Virginia Key is an island connected to Key Biscayne via the Rickenbacker
Causeway and the Bear Cut bridge.
When Miami police and the Border Patrol responded, the encountered one
Cuban migrant ashore. He told them that his two companions had left
after arriving ashore. Authorities took him to a white utility or tool
shed on the north entrance to Virginia Key Beach Park to await Border
Photographers at the scene took pictures of the migrant while he
appeared to be praying or thanking heaven for making it ashore alive.
When he walked out of the shed, he was accompanied by a Border Patrol
officer whose name tag said Roberts. Later he told a photographer that
his first name is Andre.
“He is about 65 or so and he seems like a great old man,” Roberts was
heard saying to journalists as he escorted the migrant to a vehicle.
The migrant, responding to journalists’ questions, said that his last
name is Pacheco and that he is from Pinar del Río in western Cuba. He
was dressed in a striped polo shirt, cargo pants rolled up above the
ankles, and white tennis shoes.
CBS4, meanwhile, quoted Roberts as saying that the Cuban migrant likely
will be allowed to stay.
“I’m pretty sure he is [going to stay] unless he has some major criminal
history,” CBS4 quoted Roberts as saying. “But I think he seems like a
great old man and I don’t think there is any problem.”
Source: Cuban rafter taken into custody after reaching Key Biscayne; two
others flee – Key Biscayne – MiamiHerald.com –