Aguadilla, Puerto Rico - Yesterday afternoon, federal authorities rescued a group of approximately twelve Cubans left by migrant smugglers on the inhospitable Monito Island.
The migrants were allegedly smuggled into Puerto Rico from the Dominican Republic aboard an unidentified boat.
A Park Ranger from the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources called the Ramey Sector of the U.S. Border Patrol in Aguadilla stating that a group of individuals allegedly landed at Monito Island, and seemed to be Cuban nationals.
A DCH-8 Aircraft of U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Office of Air and Marine spotted the subjects on the island.
A U.S. Coast Guard Cutter arrived at Monito Island and confirmed the landing of twelve subjects believed to be illegal aliens from Cuba.
U.S. Coast Guard helicopter aircrews hoisted the Cuban migrants and transported them to Mona Island for safe transportation to Aguadilla.
A CBP Blackhawk transported the Cubans to the Ramey Border Patrol Station for the appropriate immigration inspection and biometric processing.
The group of 11 males and one female are in good physical condition.
This morning Border Patrol agents served a Notice to Appear before an Immigration Judge to the 12 Cubans, for further proceedings under the Cuban Migration Agreement of 1995 and the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966.
They left Border Patrol custody under their own recognizance.
Last Monday, April 12, a group of nine Cubans, eight males and one female, arrived in a similar fashion in Mona Island and surrendered themselves to a park ranger.
This case demonstrates a joint working effort by federal and territorial agencies on the island under the Caribbean Border Interagency Group, to secure operational control against illegal aliens who attempt to penetrate U.S. borders.
About the Wet Foot, Dry Foot Policy
The wet foot, dry foot policy is the name given to a consequence of the 1995 revision of the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966 that says, essentially, that anyone who fled Cuba and got into the United States would be allowed to pursue residency a year later. After talks with the Cuban government, the Clinton administration came to an agreement with Cuba that it would stop admitting people found at sea. Since then, in what has become known as the "wet foot, dry foot" policy, a Cuban caught on the waters between the two nations (i.e., with "wet feet") would be sent to the place of embarkation. One who makes it to shore ("dry feet") gets a chance to remain in the United States, and later would qualify for expedited "legal permanent resident" status and U.S. citizenship.
About the Caribbean Border Interagency Group (CBIG)
CBIG is a joint venture between the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP: Office of Air and Marine Operations, Office of Field Operations, and Office of Border Patrol), the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) the United States Attorney's Office, and the Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid action (FURA). CBIG has a common goal of securing Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands against illegal maritime traffic and gaining control of our nation's Caribbean border.
About Mona and Monito Islands
Monito Island is an uninhabited island about 5 kilometers northwest of much larger Mona Island. Monito is the masculine diminutive form of Mona in Spanish. It is one of three islands in the Mona Passage. It is inaccessible by sea, barren, reaches 65 m in height, and measures 0.147 km² (0.0566 sq mi, or 36.25 acres) in area.
Mona has an area of about 57 km² (22 square miles) and lies 66 km (41 miles) west of the main island of Puerto Rico, 61 km (38 miles) east of the Dominican Republic, and 49 km (30 miles) southwest of Desecheo Island, another island in the Mona Passage.