A boat with 41 Cuban migrants aboard has arrived in the Cayman Islands and asked for 24 hours of safe harbor because of bad weather, the Immigration Department of the British territory announced Thursday.
The 33 men and eight women arrived in Cayman Brac island on Wednesday evening and asked for permission to wait out a weather system, the department said in a brief announcement that gave no other details of the group.
The statement added that the arrival of a second boatload of Cuban migrants in less than one week “demonstrates an increase in the number of migrants leaving Cuba and passing though the Cayman area.”
Thirty-four Cubans aboard a home-made boat docked Sunday in the east end of Grand Cayman Island but sailed away quickly after authorities ordered them to move on or face detention and eventual repatriation to their country.
Another 30 Cubans were ordered to sail on or be detained last week after their wooden had broken down and drifted for nearly two weeks along the south side of Grand Cayman Island. Local residents apparently helped them to repair their vessel.
Most Cubans spotted in Cayman waters set sail from eastern Cuba, 125 miles to the north of the British territory, and hope to ride the prevailing currents and winds to reach Honduras. From there, they try to travel by land to the United States, where they can legally stay under the U.S. “wet foot, dry foot policy.”
Under a 1999 agreement between the Cayman Islands and Cuba, Cayman authorities can allow Cuban boatpeople to continue on their voyage if their vessel is safe. But if their boat is not fit, the Cubans must be forced to land and be detained in immigration centers. Virtually all are later repatriated to their home country.