A dog named "Cuba", who strayed into their camp and was adopted, and a few table games were the only items left behind as 16 migrants (one female and 15 males) were removed from the Immigration Detention Centre and repatriated yesterday afternoon (Thursday, 17 February, 2012).
The group had arrived on Cayman Brac by boat from Cuba on 12 November.
Department of Immigration officials state that repatriation concluded the procedural and administrative processes carried out in such situations, in consultation with Cuban authorities and in keeping with Memorandum of Understanding.
All the repatriated Cubans had filed for political asylum in the Cayman Islands, which were reviewed and refused. Following, they all signed letters stating that they wished to be repatriated.
This was the first repatriation managed entirely by the Department of Immigration, while the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, Civil Aviation Authority and Cayman Airways staff provided support.
Acting Assistant Chief Immigration Officer Joey Scott led a team of 17 officers, assisted by Senior Immigration Officer Troy Thomas. Also participating in the operation were the three Deputy Chiefs of Immigration (DCIO), Gary Wong (Enforcement), Bruce Smith (Border Control) and Samantha Bennett (Administration).
Expressing his pleasure after the successful completion of the repatriation, Mr. Wong said, "Carrying out the process in a safe and effective manner was our main objective, and this was achieved - thanks to all involved." This was the second repatriation undertaken in the past two years.
The Cubans' reply was a "thumbs-up" to the support they received from government, individuals and the wider community, but a "thumbs-down" to having to return. "Bueno, bueno. Marviloso," said one man of his Cayman experience.
Another Cuban asked, "What next?" Adding, "I'm happy to be going back to see my family, but I will get on the next boat leaving Cuba but not stopping in Cayman Islands."
Two more Cubans, Fernando Figueredo and Rafael Hildalgo, escaped the Detention Centre on 21 January and are still being sought. Persons with information should call 526-0418, 526-0433 or 526-0488, or risk facing prosecution.
Cuba the dog will be taken home by the private security guard who has worked at the facility over recent months.
For further information contact: Lennon Christian