August 19, 1996 in Nation/World

Cuba Demands U.S. Return Illegal Refugees

Associated Press

Cuba demanded Sunday that refugees shipwrecked off the Florida coast last week be sent home, saying a U.S. decision to admit some of them was a “flagrant violation” of a pact to halt illegal immigration.

The demand by the foreign ministry was published Sunday by Cuban government news media.

The U.S. decision to not return 11 refugees “stimulates illegal immigration and encourages irresponsible traffickers, who are not bothered by carrying innocent people to their death,” a ministry statement said.

In May 1995, President Clinton agreed to send back illegal Cuban immigrants and Cuba agreed not to take reprisals against them.

Cuba also repeated a promise to try to prevent a repeat of the flood of raft-borne emigrants that swamped U.S. coasts in 1994. Clinton agreed to increase the number of Cubans admitted legally to the United States.

The 11 refugees were among 27 Cubans rescued at sea Monday after their vessel sank while trying to reach the Florida Keys.

The U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service decided to repatriate 16 of the 27 Cubans. Of the remaining 11, three were determined to have a credible fear of persecution if they returned to Cuba and eight were allowed into the United States temporarily to help bury two family members who died on the trip.

© Copyright 1996 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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