Saturday, January 28, 2023

Cuban migrants arrive in Florida with an uncertain future

Key West, Fla. ( Associated Press) – Yoandri Sanchez Sanchez arrived in the Florida Keys earlier Thursday morning with 22 other Cubans on a motorized raft he built himself.

Their 100-mile (160-kilometer) journey began on New Year’s Eve from the island in the dangerous Florida Straits and was interrupted by heavy rains that forced them to take shelter for a few days on a small, uninhabited island. But after six days they finally succeeded, and Sanchez was overwhelmed with joy.

“We come to work and to be able to help our families in Cuba,” said Sanchez, who is one of more than 4,400 migrants, mostly Cubans and some Haitians, who have arrived by boat in Florida since August. We have arrived at a time when both those countries are facing increasingly serious political and economic crises. At a time of large numbers of arrivals in Florida and much more in Texas, President Joe Biden’s administration on Thursday announced new rules to regulate immigration.

Sanchez hoped to obtain documents at a border patrol office in the Keys, which would allow him to enter and work in the United States, at least for now. Since Washington and Havana do not have diplomatic relations, there is no way for the US government to deport him and other Cubans. He has relatives in Florida who can help him, but he is survived by his parents, his wife, two brothers and two grandchildren.

“What matters is that we’re already here,” announced Sanchez, and burst into tears.

Hours after Sanchez and his group arrived, Biden announced a tougher stance against immigrants from Cuba, Haiti and Nicaragua: He said he would immediately begin turning away people from those countries who are illegal immigrants. formally cross the border between states. and Mexico, as it has done to the people of Venezuela. However, it was not clear how this would affect migrants arriving in Florida.

Those who are detained at sea return to their country and Cuba accepts them. About 8,000 Cubans and Haitians have been detained since August, about 50 per day, compared with an average of 17 per day in the last fiscal year and two per day during the 2020-2021 fiscal year. At least 65 migrants have died at sea since August, officials have said.

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Spencer reported from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Solomon reported from Miami.

Nation World News Desk
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