http://havanajournal.com/politics/entry/us_quietly_continues_to_deport_cubans_from_mariel_era/

HavanaJournal.com: Cuba Politics

U.S. quietly continues to deport Cubans from Mariel era

Posted March 04, 2005 by mattlawrence in Cuba Politics.
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His hair is long, his nails are darkened by his HIV-medicine, and his memory sometimes fractures like a kaleidoscope image.

By Ruth Morris
Staff Writer
Posted March 4 2005

Jorge Laguna remembers being jailed in Cuba for dressing as a woman, and he remembers leaving the communist-ruled nation during the 1980 Mariel boatlift.

But he doesn’t remember anyone in the United States telling him he was on a repatriation list. He didn’t know of the list until his arrest last year in a brawl.


 



 


That’s when Laguna learned he was one of hundreds of men and women that Cuban President Fidel Castro has agreed to take back since they fled in the Mariel exodus.

Even as Florida Cubans and human rights groups celebrate a recent Supreme Court ruling to release 750 Mariel Cuban convicts held indefinitely in U.S. custody, a higher number—about 1,000—are on the nearly forgotten repatriation list, which has quietly threaded its way through two decades of U.S.- Cuban relations. Experts said many people on the list have no idea they are on it.

Envoys drafted the repatriation agreement and list in 1984, when diplomatic ties between the two countries seemed to be thawing. A year later, with the introduction of Radio Martí, Castro abruptly refused to receive more marielitos.

In 1987, the deportations resumed, leading to large-scale prison riots in Atlanta and Louisiana.

Since then, the roster has faded from many Cubans’ memories.

Yet it provides a thin and constant trickle of Cuban deportees, taken back to their homeland aboard monthly flights in twos and threes, amid little fanfare and almost no public scrutiny.

“I don’t want to go back. I have long hair, breast implants. I wouldn’t be well seen in that society. I’m nervous,” said Laguna, 45, in a phone interview from a detention center in St. Martinville, La. “I have never agreed with Castro’s government.”

Laguna’s attorney, Elsa Martínez, who found him as she visited other prisoners, has filed a motion to reopen his case based on changed country conditions in Cuba since he was initially ordered deported in 1982. She described a frazzled and confused man decimated by HIV. His file suggests he never had a lawyer, she said, and that he encountered insensitive immigration agents.

“There are a lot of derogatory statements in his file,” said Martínez, who is handling his case pro bono from her office in Los Angeles. “You have handwritten notes that clearly say, `This is not someone we want here.’”

She contends Laguna would face abuse and life-threatening medical neglect in Cuba because of his appearance, political views and HIV status.

Cuba was accused of mistreating HIV patients by quarantining them in the 1980s, although HIV clinics are less rigid now and attitudes toward gay men and transvestites have become somewhat more liberal, according to published reports.

Nina Pruneda, of the U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement agency, said 1,700 “List Cubans” have been deported over the years, and that 1,000 names remain. Last year 60 Cubans were deported “from U.S. soil,” although it’s unclear how many were sent back to Cuba as opposed to other countries.

“The irony of the whole thing is that the people who made that list were minor offenders,” said Rafael Peńalver, a Miami lawyer and longtime advocate of Mariel detainees. The list was comprised mostly of Cubans who had completed prison sentences by 1984, he said; hardcore criminals paying longer sentences were excluded by default.

Peńalver helped get hundreds of List Cubans freed during a review process set up in 1987, but any brush with the law today could return them to jail and draw the attention of deportation officers, he said.

“The people on that list don’t even know they’re on that list,” he said.

Mark Dow, who has written a book about immigrant detention, said the repatriation list exposed a skewed legal standard in the immigration system, where criminal foreigners are often subject to blanket penalties with little consideration for the severity of their crimes.

“The list is a unique example of the way there is a separate justice system for dealing with certain people that’s kept invisible,” he said.

Laguna said he moved from Miami to Los Angeles in the 1980s, and worked at beauty salons.

His police file sketches a light criminal history, two solicitation charges and last year’s arrest, which led to a background check.

A warrant for an unpaid seatbelt fine triggered immigration checks.

Carlos Fuentes, a Mexican shuttle driver who refers to Laguna as a nephew, said he had met other Mariel Cubans convicted of worse crimes.

“One had committed robbery, assault, and was on drugs and they’re not going to deport him,” Fuentes said of a Cuban he met while visiting Laguna in jail. “What are these laws about?”

Laguna was living with Fuentes, 64, and Fuentes’s son in Los Angeles before his arrest. When Fuentes was stricken with cancer three years ago, Laguna took care of him, making herbal remedies from prickly aloe plants and lighting prayer candles to Saint Lazarus.

Fuentes, in turn, has cared for Laguna during bouts with HIV.

“A judge should know when you start caring for someone, and you spend days not sleeping to take care of them, you begin to love them,” Fuentes said.

 

Member Comments

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On August 10, 2008, tino zaldivar wrote:

There are many things that the US public does not know, that is going on right now
behind the walls of county jails (private businesses), taking in federal prisoners ins detainees, men and women that have been in the US since infancy, some even have served their country in the military,yes, the US Army,some have even served in Vietnam,
I myself have been in this country from the age of 2 yrs. old. Anything that I have learned, be it good or bad, I have learned it here, to tell you the truth I thought that I was American,
but my Mother had never taken the steps required to naturalize me, and me having been here since infancy,never knew better,I was a color guard in school reciting the pledge of allegiance to the flag of America.. Yet when I turned teenager I got involved in drugs ,which lead to other things, one of which was a NYS state crimional sentence for drugs, in which I was supposed to have finished my sentence in 1998, only to learn that I was to be transferred instead to the jurisdiction of the INS, this is where I discovered that I was not only not going home on time but was indefinitely detained in many county (horrible) jails all around the country, for the next 2 years, and I am now a deportee waiting for I do not know what to happen. The only thing that I can hope for is that the government or some senators in Fla. help this situation, of people in my situation, that have grown up in this country, l;ove this country,and know nothing else but this country,help uin this situation.

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On February 08, 2009, Roberto Lopez wrote:

Mi comentario es sobre la ipocresia de EU en solamente proteger a los llamados Ciudadanos Americanos ,me refiero en espesial a los immigrantes que se han hecho ciudadanos en es este pais y ahora tienen como un tipo de lisencia para poder violar ,matar ,robar ,vender droga ,usar droga ,robar bancos y demas sin que pierdan sus previlegios de vivir como un ser humano .las leyes de immigracion de este Pais son las mas estupidas en el mundo , ahora no permiten gente con delitos aqui ,en cambio este pais fue forjado hace 300 anos con personas que supuestamente eran indeseables en otros paise de Europa y fueron desterrados aqui.
Lo que estan asiendo con los pobres Cubanos en lista de deportasion aqui es un abuso . acaben de darnos estatus legal , Fidel no nos admite por politica.

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On April 01, 2009, mike fernannzky wrote:

i’m one of them currently awaiting a removal since 2/8.need help i’m running out of time.

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On April 04, 2009, grant wrote:

HIV in Cuba is to have good food and medical treatment in the hospital system but even when isolated from non HIV cubans , they were allowed to leave and return to their families after an evaluation and learning period.

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On April 04, 2009, grant wrote:

#2, pero muchos hace 300? anos eran obligado a retornar a Ingleterra. Australia no.

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On April 05, 2009, Debbie T wrote:

I am in shock to hear this ,my husband has been here since he was 5yrs old. He was a young man and now currently waiting for possible deportation. This saddens me to know that my husband who knows nothing but this country maybe deported. I was born here and so was my daughter. I am not welcome in Cuba my parents left Cuba in 1960. I have no family there. It’s a shame that my country is doing us like this I am a tax payer never defaulted from my taxes and I thought that if my husband served his time and was a minimal offender that he would be aloud to stay in this country.Not to mention that he was19 when his crime was committed I am a bit a shame to say that I am an American that gets treated this way. What can we do to keep our families here. If he gets taken away, we will never see him again. Since I am not even welcomed there. I am so sad. I am so scared and can’t find anyone to help us.

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On April 06, 2009, tino zaldivar wrote:

There are also some famous perfomers that are under deportation status,“Slick Rick”, one of the pioneers of HipHop has suffered continuous returns to INS detention centers,The now Governor of the State of NY has granted him a Pardon for his Crime of Attempted Murder,Posession of a Handgun, yet,that has no bearing whatsoever on his INS case, because it is on a Federal level, and Federal supersedes Government. Mr Obama needs to hear about these cases, and a change must be made, especially for those people that came here at a child’s age, this Law was meant to get rid of Terrorists, not people that have lived here their whole life, and did not take the required steps to become a citizen, because they were, too young to know , or were never educated, or,just thought that they were already an American Citizen, since they did not know any other Country.
Mr. Obama, please hear our stories,Please feel our pain.

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On May 21, 2009, JACKIE wrote:

SAME SITUATION HERE WITH MY HUSBAND.  I CAN’T BELIEVE THEY LIVE WITH THIS CONSTANT WORRY. HE REPORTS EVERY 3 MONTH AND WE DON’T KNOW IF HE WILL COME BACK OUT.  THEY ARE CURRENTLY DEPORTED AND IS NOT ONLY MARIEL. WE HAD A FRIEND GO REPORT TO IMMIGRATION, KEPT LOCKED AND SENT TO CUBA WHERE HE LATER DIED 3 WEEKS AFTER BEING RELEASED FROM THE PRISON THERE OF A HEART ATTACK.  NOT KNOWING IF HE IS COMMING OUT OF THE OFFICE, CANT VACATION OUT OF FL. WON’T BUY A PROPERTY CAUSE HE CAN BE DEPORTED AT ANY TIME. CAN’T HAVE A BABY BECAUSE OF THE SAME SITUATION. OTHER NATIONALS ARE GIVEN TIME BEFORE DEPORTING TO MAKE ARRANGEMENTS, TO SAY GOODBYES AND ARE ABLE TO TAKE PERSONAL BELONGINGS, WHY DO CUBANS HAVE TO BE TREATED SO UNHUMANE.  HE HAS PAID HIS DUE TO SOCIETY 5 YEARS AND ALSO 16 MONTH TO IMMIGRATION.  HE HAS STAYED OUT OF TROUBLE, PAYS HIS TAXES EVEN WITH THE DIFFICULRY IT IS O GET A JOB NOT ONLY BECAUSE OF THE RECORD BUT BECAUSE EVERY 3 MONTH HE HAS TO GET 3 HOURS OFF TO REPORT AT KHROME.  IT IS ALOT OF STRESS NOT ONLY FOR HIM BUT FOR OUR ENTIRE FAMILY.  WE SHOULD TRY TO GET A LIST OF THOSE 30, WHO ARE ON REMOVAL AND PREPARE A LETTER FOR THE PRESIDENT, GRONGRESS, SENATORS ETC… AND HAVE THEM SIGN IT

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On June 24, 2009, AMADO wrote:

this is a bad siyuation for us cuban , i came to this country on 1990, i just to be an actor when i vame , so i could travel out of cuba, when i went to mexico on 1990 i decided that i have enough of the comunist system, so i left cuba to the american border where i sneak whith the help of a coyote. when i arrive to usa , i tought thst i have all the rights as a human being.i did not not that comiting a crime here will put me on the deportees list to cuba. i commit my crimes on 1992,1993 and 1996, for auto theft and bulglary.they gave me prison time for 5 years wich i complete 3 and half for good behavior,i was deportee on 1996 by an inmigration judge, i got out of prison after spend a month an a half on a relly ugly jail on panama city an inmigration pannel release me because i have a really good behavihor in prison and also i had a ged diplomat and electrician, i have a son that was 4 years old when i got out of prison,so i been going to ins for the last 9 years every three months.since i got out i haven’t been in any kind of trouble,i am paying my taxes, now i learn my lesson. last year i get married and i have my second child,my life is an inferno, i can do any thing , can go whith my kids no where, can dream like normal father can do whith their child.can see my family , this policy of been pending to removal is really tearing apart a lot of families, i understand tha united state have all the rights to deport me if i in fact committed a crime, but to have me in this status that is not status at all, is unhuman that this country after 13 years of me been clean and dont commit a crime keep me on this discriminatory policy. why after 13 years i can no bee a normal person, i feel like i still on jail ,and that one day i wont be able to see my childs again, i really scare, dont know what to do i feel like they treat us like terrorist no like human beings

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On August 26, 2009, George wrote:

Same situation my wife and I are married for 13 years he had a legal problem with her ex husband and paid for it in jail for 2 1/2 years plus 6 months INS that was a long time ago we have been working and paying taxes legally , we have a kif and now we are scared everytime she has to report to INS that it will be the last time we see her. no legal remedies exist to prevent this. Deportations are under way actually since friends have been deported already, its not public not to cause alarm so the news or cubans wont be alarmed and start to do something to prevent it, the only way to help is to go public and appeal to the human rights,  make it public go to the news to make noise so we can be heard there is not something more powerfull than public exposure to make politicians do something to look good.

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On August 26, 2009, amado wrote:

lest take this to the next level i live in miami and i am willing to use all my resources to fight this humans rights violation ,lest get toguether and put some money to hire a good lawyer who can fight for us on the federal court ,is unconstitutional to keep humans beens like us in this situation forever.all we need is the power of united wi=w will make them ashamed for what they doing to us .you cant keep humans beings for life goint to a prison tobe supervised for ever, we have humans rights,thats right we live here and if we get together we can challenge this abuse.my e-mail is .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) me know if you are willing to fight for this ,we have to make some noyce,i dont think americans and the world whant to lnow this is actually happens in america.10 years i been reporting to ins and i still on the limbo even i am a complete diferent persons and a law abide person,i been clear for 14 years, no record i been doing my taxes ,what else they whant from me , the only thing i ask for is one oportunty in this life who is so short,i whant to be a normal person and letthis inferno on the pass . is to hard this to ask/. juts to be able to enjoys the family,a made while here on the proccess of deportation,is not my problem that they can not deport me .they cant be this cruel come on this is the country of george washintong,and the same people who made the constitution,knowing that this kind of abuse will happens,the same constitution who protect us to.lest get togheter and put the money together for a good lawyer,and make some noyse.i know that we will prevail if we fight . we need resources,let me tell you fellas i the constitution is on our side ,if you willing writte me at my email aboveo.thanks

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On August 27, 2009, JACKIE wrote:

I WANT TO REFER THIS MESSAGE TO AMADO HIRING AN ATTO.  THE PROBLEM IS NOT   HIRING A GOOD ATTORNEY BECAUSE WE HAVE AND VISITED, COUNTLESS OF THEM.  I THIK WE SHOULD START BY GETTING A LIST OF THE CUBANS ON THAT DEPORTATION LIST.  WE NEED TO CONTACT THE VIA MAIL OR PERSONALLY AND WE SHOULD SET A WEEKEND TO STAND IN FRONT OF EITHER THE INS OFFICES OR TO THE WHITE HOUSE.  THAT WILL CALL GET INT’L ATTENTION IT SHOULD BE DONE NATIONALLY.  NOW HOW DO WE GET ACESS TO THIS LIST?  CA SOMEONE HELP OR SUGGEST

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On September 06, 2009, frank jimenez wrote:

llegue a estados unidos en 1966 solo 16 anos de edad como personas de vajos recursos mis padres no podian legalizar nuestro papeles de ciudadania ni residencia ,mi padre trabajaba de sol a sol mi madre tambien yo estudiaba y trabajaba ,en 1984 tuve problemas con la ley en la cual fui convicto por falta de ayuda legal no conocer las leyes y por la rapides en la cual los abogados de oficios no te explican y te hacen aceptar culpabilidades las cuales no han ocurrido ni remotamente,en fin fue condenado a 2 anos de prision y nunca supe que podia ser deportado aun siendo inocente de la culpabilidad aceptada por temor a pasar aun mas tiempo en prision asi me decia me dijo el abogado de oficio,en fin estamos en el ano 2009 nunca jamas he tenido ni siquiera una violacion de trafico sin embargo temo por mi deportacion mi familia mis hijos nietos y los bienes que a travez de los anos de trabajo hemos podido obtener en fin aqui no se les informa a la ciudadania las cosas como son muchas personas ni siquiera se sospechan como es que trabaja un sitema judicial en este pais,en 1996 la ley que aprovo el congreso y la cual fue apoyada mayormente por republicanos extemistas que odia a los hispanos logragron la victoria pare politicamente poder controlar la fuerza inparable del poder latino en estados unidos y asi deshacerse de miles de nosotros,lo ironico de esto es que un americano aun siendo un naturalizado hace miles de ofenzas miles de crimenes y no son deportables en cambio un no ciudadano es llevado al maximo de la expresion y sin compasion sin estudiar el caso sin dejarle explicar su problema automaticamente te ponen en lista de deportacion y te violan todo derecho como ser humano ,donde esta el respeto al derecho humano?donde etan las libertades de expresion y libertad? preguntemoles a los politicos que solo esperan ganar dinero en todo esto,No sigo porque tendria que estar el dia aqui pero si estoy dispuesto a redactar sin mentiras esactamento mi caso el cual es un bochorno al sistema de este pais que no respeta ni le interesa los derechos las familias afectadas ni siquiera la oportunidad de que se les demuestre la verdad, Grasia por la lectura que dios nos bendigue,

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On September 22, 2009, amado wrote:

this is getting ridiculous,last week i went to p.rico on the trip cause is one of the few people like me can go ,and they dont let me rent a car on trifty because my florida license have temporary which mean only for 1 year at the time,this was very bad cause my license is from florida and i allow to drive on usa territory,and i guess p.rico belong to usa , this was very estupid,from trifty rent car,any way i went to enterprise ,and they let me rent the car.ths is how much we have to suffer with this situation that we are ,we are second class citizen

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On October 12, 2009, Felix Lopez wrote:

I’m in totally agreement with what Orlando said. “CAN YOU IMAGING SOMEONE TAKING OBAMA AWAY FROM HIS LOVES ONE! I BET HE WILL FIGHT TILL THE END IF HE WAS IT IN OUR SHOES BECAUSE HIS FAMILY IS HIS LIFE, SO WE HAVE A REASON TO FIGHT AND IF THEY STILL DONT CARE ABOUT US THEN A LEAST WE TRY”
Why can’t we get together and raise our voices, like Orlando said, create a website and let Obama and most important the world know about this.
Like most of us, I have a family and a business too, (as a matter of fact through my business I feed some other families too) this could looks like a joke but it is. This is going to create a tremendous stress for me and my family, this is like the separation that we suffered when I decided to get a raft in 1994 and come over here. The difference now is that I have two daughters and one of them was born in Las Vegas, the other came when she was 1 year old, so she feels and think like an American too. I can not imagine then living here without me; but I can not imagine my daughters living in Cuba neither; if I have to leave this country it will be abusive from my part to take them with me and cut their studies and their life here, and if I leave alone, then they are going to suffer a lot and I will too because the separation. This is tormentous I don’t even like to think about it.
We all made a mistake and it looks like the man law is giving us life sentence to pay for it, when we live in the freest country of the planet. Is this a reality or what?
Does a human being that committed a crime and already paid for it to society deserves to pay such a hardship for life?
I know because the people that I spoke to, that INS is doing this very sneaky or very silent; we need to get in contact; and let the press and the world know about this; please lets do it, lets do it please, lets get together. Let’s create a foundation for “Los deportados” like all this different foundations in the world, perhaps lets create a foundation to help the families of “Los Deportados”. This could sound like a joke but it is possible and we need it.

This foundation will operate in Cuba and throughout the world, because there is going to be cubanos deportados throughout the world. 

This INS law should have some flexibility and some exceptions. I have not idea how old this law is, but to me it looks like is a law that hasn’t change in a very long time. It could be modify so the people that have really changed their life could be reconsidered to cancel deportation. Believe me they have a way to know who has changed and who has not; we all deserve a second chance and may be a third too.

Please if anybody would like to communicate with me and come up with ideas contact me at:
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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On April 25, 2010, lorenko wrote:

20 long years since i was deported.i cant take this anymore.i got two beautiful children in this country. i look at them and think that one day i wont be with them anymore.for political reason this country allowed me to stay after my deportation for 20 years in this country.i have a family now ,how can they do something like that to separate me from my family.shame on this country that fight for freedom and family.if we as cuban have people on high positions like congressman and senator why dont we ask them for help?

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On May 03, 2010, manolito f wrote:

I am in the same position.  I committed a drug offense when I was 19 years old and have and american wife and two american children, one of which has some developmental delays.  I was ordered to be deported last week, 22 years after I originally offended.  INS is now telling me I may be detained for 3 months or more.  I have served my time and have rebuilt my life, when will I ever be forgiven. What can we do to stop this?

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On May 03, 2010, manolito f wrote:

this messager is for JACKIE yes you are rt we need to get all together and created a email list and send all that stuff to the congress and senator we pay or time why more punish it

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On April 08, 2011, Missy wrote:

What can we do my uncle is on that list. He committed a crime when he was 20 and now he’s 53 and haven’t did anything since. He facing deportation when will all end. I think all of us should pray to God for him to change the laws.