MIAMI, May 11, CMC – An elderly Cuban couple detained on arrival at Miami International airport following an end to the United States “wet foot, dry foot” immigration policy remains in custody almost a month after a judge denied the couple’s asylum application.
The Miami Herald reports that Aquilino Caraballo and Georgina Hernández, 67 and 64, are being held at separate facilities and do not know when they will be deported to the Spanish-speaking Caribbean island, despite the April 4 court ruling.
“All I want now is for them to be returned to Cuba,” Caraballo said. “They are desperate because they want to leave already. That is psychological torture.
“My parents are not delinquents, they are decent people who have their children here in the United States,” she added.
The Herald reports that the asylum case could set a precedent for Cubans who were detained after the end of “wet foot, dry foot” policy on January 12.
Before then, it said, Cubans who made it to US could stay under a special admission permit, known as parole, that disappeared with the immigration policy change implemented by former President Barack Obama.
Aquilino Caraballo and Georgina Hernández had a five-year tourist visa and had visited the United States six times when they were arrested on January 13.
According to relatives, the couple was unaware that the policy had changed a day earlier and told an immigration officer that they “wanted to stay” in the United States.
Hernández was placed at the Krome Detention Center in Miami-Dade while his wife was transported to the Broward Transitional Center in Pompano Beach, known as BTC, in Florida.
During a closed door hearing on March 10, the defense tried to argue that Caraballo, a small farmer in Batabanó, south of Havana, the Cuban capital, had been harassed by government officials and would probably be harassed again if he returned to Cuba.
Caraballo’s son, Jorge Caraballo, said Cuban authorities had confiscated 45 boxes of tomatoes and other products, accusing him of trying to sell them on his own and avoid the price hikes imposed by the state. Authorities also threatened to confiscate his property, the son said.
Now, after more than four months of detention, the couple is “resigned to have to return to Cuba,” although they are also afraid of retaliation, the daughter told the Herald.
“Anyone who leaves Cuba and is sent back is afraid,” said Ms. Caraballo, who has visited her mother but has not been able to see her father, telling the Herald that her mother has lost sight in one of her eyes.
“It seems that it’s due to her nerves,” Caraballo said, adding that her mother has refused medical attention out of fear and prefers to be left alone.
“If they take her to a hospital I may not see her anymore,” Caraballo told the Herald. “She’ll go to the hospital when she returns to Cuba.”