Immigration officials deport 120 Cubans to Havana — and that’s just the beginning | Miami Herald

miamiherald | 9/5/2019 | Staff
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Immigration officials deported 120 Cubans on a single flight last week — one of the “largest” Cuba repatriation missions in recent history.

Last Friday’s U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement charter flight from New Orleans to Havana was one of many to come, two federal sources say, noting that officials have been quietly ramping up their efforts to detain and send undocumented Cubans back to the island.

Deportation - Cuban - Nationals - Piece - Trump

The targeted deportation of Cuban nationals is just a small piece of the Trump administration’s plan to empty out the country of undocumented immigrants, though the successful removals are the fruit of an agreement signed by both the U.S. and Cuban governments under former President Barack Obama in his last days in office.

“The government is trying to deport as many people as they can regardless of their legal claims,” said Randy McGrorty, a longtime Miami immigration lawyer who serves as executive director of Catholic Legal Services, which provides free representation for low-income immigrants.

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McGrorty represents a Cuban national who was recently detained at the southern border. He was supposed to be on the ICE flight to Havana but was taken off at the last minute after a paperwork glitch. “South Florida should be up in arms,” he said.

People - Havana - Flight - Consisted - Arrivals

It’s still unclear whether the people on the Havana flight consisted of recent arrivals, or people who have illegally remained in the country. However, ICE sources say the majority passed so-called “credible-fear interviews” that they faced persecution if returned, but were not represented by attorneys.

The migration accord — or “Joint Agreement” — dated Jan. 12, 2017, mandates that Cuba has to accept all Cuban nationals that enter the U.S. as of that date, or who are discovered to have remained in the U.S. illegally.

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