Letter of The Members of Congress
Lincoln Diaz-Balart, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart to The
U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
January 10, 2006
The Honorable Michel Chertoff
Secretary U.S. Department of Homeland Security
3891 Nebraska Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20528-0001
Dear Secretary Chertoff:
On September 17, 2003, while reiterating our profound opposition to the
"Clinton Castro Migration Accord" (CCMA) of May 1995, we wrote to then
Assistant Secretary of State Roger Noriega and Ambassador Otto Reich,
with a series of recommendations to address the inconsistencies and
arbitrariness of the "CCMA".
At that time, we were informed that the "CCMA"
was under review and that our recommendations were being considered.
Since we sent our letters, we have witnessed a record number of human
trafficking cases from Cuba, a dramatic increase of Cuban nationals
attempting to flee the island, an extraordinary amount of refugees
repatriated without regard for the merits of their asylum petitions,
and, basically, an overall process that constitutes an embarrassment to
the United States.
The most recent repatriation of 15 Cuban refugees, who did reach U.S.
territory by touching the Seven Mile Bridge in the Florida Keys, is
simply the most recent example of an arbitrary process that uses any
excuse to repatriate as many Cuban nationals as possible without due
Currently, 75% of all Cuban nationals who
enter the United States and file for asylum have their applications
approved. However, of the 11,137 Cuban nationals intercepted at sea from
May 1995, through 2005, about 301 Cuban refugees were taken to the
Guatanamo Naval Base (GITMO). This means that less than 3% of Cuban
nationals intercepted by the U.S. Coast Guard were taken to GITMO having
demonstrated a "credible fear of persecution.
" The disparity in the treatment of these
two groups is most concerning, and underscores the severe inequities of
the existing process on board the Coast Guard vessels. We hereby
reiterate our strong opposition to the immoral "CCMA" and urge that
existing policy be reviewed forthwith.
In an effort to remedy the obvious
disparity outlined above, we, once again, recommend the following:
1. An immediate, through review of how the
interviews of Cuban nationals intercepted at sea are conducted and
"credible fear of persecution" is determined;
2. Legal counsel from recognized Volunteer
Agencies should be allowed aboard the Coast Guard vessels in order to
provide legal advice to refugees;
3. If it is determined that it is not
feasible to have legal counsel on board U.S. Coast Guard vessels, all
Cuban nationals intercepted at sea should be taken to GITMO for their
cases to be properly evaluated and for the refugees to be afforded
procedural rights consistent with Cuban nationals who seek asylum on
4. A percentage of the unallocated reserve
of 20,000 refugees in FY 2005 should be reallocated to Cuban nationals
who are not relocated to a third country after 120 days of the date they
arrive at GITMO; and
5. The United States Interests Section
should issue a report on the status of Cubans who have been repatriated
to determine if they have sought and obtained refugee questionnaires as
well as the status of their applications for refugee visas. We believe
that even though the very nature of this "Migration Accord" between the
Cuban totalitarian regime and the United States runs contrary to the
Cuban people's aspiration for democracy and the United States' rich
tradition of granting refuge to the oppressed, these recommendations
would significantly alleviate the detrimental impact of the "Migration
" We urge you to review these
recommendations, and hereby request a meeting with you as soon as
possible to discuss their possible implementation.
January 11, 2006