Federal officials have released nearly 150 Cuban refugees who were convicted of crimes and imprisoned after the 1980 Mariel boatlift.
Posted February 15 2005, 6:35 AM EST
The move is a sign that the Bush administration has begun to comply with last month’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that the indefinite detention of illegal immigrants was unconstitutional.
About 600 more Mariel convicts remain in prisons and jails nationwide, along with more than 100 non-Cuban detainees, said Manny Van Pelt, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security in Washington, D.C. Most are expected to be released over the next few months.
‘‘We have started releasing the individuals, and we are moving forward now with the release of those persons who are affected’’ by the ruling, Van Pelt said.
The Supreme Court case involved two men who were part of the Mariel exodus, in which Cuban President Fidel Castro sent criminals and psychiatric patients to U.S. shores, along with thousands of other fleeing Cubans. Some of them were convicted of crimes in the United States.
In 2001, the high court ruled that it was unconstitutional to detain legal immigrants who had completed their criminal sentences for more than a ``reasonable period,’’ generally six months.
The Supreme Court ruled 7-2 on Jan. 12 that the same standard should apply to illegal immigrants.
Van Pelt said some of the releases were in the Miami area, but he had no specifics.