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Asylum case likely to set precedent for Cubans, following end to wet foot, dry foot policy

Asylum case likely to set precedent for Cubans, following end to wet
foot, dry foot policy
BY NORA GÁMEZ TORRES
ngameztorres@elnuevoherald.com

An elderly Cuban couple is expected to remain in detention while a judge
who presided over their asylum hearing Friday makes a final
determination on their fate.

Aquilino Caraballo and Georgina Hernández, 67 and 64, have been held in
separate facilities since they were taken into custody on Jan. 13 at
Miami International Airport, a day after the former Obama administration
announced an end to the immigration policy known as “wet foot, dry foot.”

The case — the first involving Cubans facing possible deportation as a
result of the policy change — is likely to set a legal precedent, which
is why Judge Adam Opaciuch opted to issue his ruling in writing at a
future date not yet known, according to the couple’s immigration
attorney Wilfredo Allen.

The case is sticky because wet foot, dry foot generally allowed entry to
those Cubans who made it onto U.S. soil without a visa.

Caraballo and Hernández, who flew to Miami to visit their daughter and
son, had entry visas but were taken into custody after reportedly
telling an immigration officer during their interview at the airport
that they “wanted to stay” in the U.S.

The couple’s daughter Geidy Caraballo, whom has flown her parents in for
previous visits from their home in Batabanó, south of Havana, has said
they did not fully understand the line of questioning by immigration
authorities.

Hernández was placed at the Krome Detention Center in Miami-Dade, where
Friday’s hearing — which lasted about four hours — was held. His wife
was transported to the Broward Transitional Center in Pompano Beach.

“This has been the worst experience of my life, to see my parents
detained,” Geidy Caraballo said on the verge of tears just before the
hearing began. “How is one supposed to feel? Devastated.”

Journalists were not allowed into the hearing after a request from the
prosecution to keep it closed.

According to relatives and experts called to testify, the hearing
centered on a debate about Cuba’s political and economic system and the
reality of so-called reforms implemented by the Raúl Castro government.

“It is a matter of establishing a precedent that it is not only about
the people persecuted for political reasons, but rather that the system
itself denies all rights” to Cubans, said Juan Antonio Blanco, director
of the Miami-based Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba, who was called
to testify for the defense. “What is on trial today is not a person, it
is a system.”

Follow Nora Gámez Torres on Twitter: @ngameztorres

Source: Asylum case for elderly Cuban couple likely to set precedent |
Miami Herald –
www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/cuba/article137834113.html

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