U.S. Border Patrol agents detained five individuals on Mona Island, which lies between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, who claimed to be Cuban migrants, the Spanish press agency EFE reports.
Agents are trying to determine whether the five are really Cubans, who under the Cuban Adjustment Act are entitled to permanent resident status if they reach U.S. territory.
Cubans intent on leaving the Communist-ruled island for life in the United States have been using a route in recent years that includes a stop on uninhabited Mona Island.
Traffickers based in the Dominican Republic bring Cuban migrants to Mona, taking advantage of Washington’s “wet foot, dry foot” policy, which mandates that Cubans who reach U.S. soil may remain and apply for permanent residence while those intercepted at sea are generally returned to their homeland.
Cubans arriving on U.S. territory can take advantage of the benefits afforded them by the Cuban Adjustment Act, which grants them permission to reside and work in the United States and a track toward citizenship.
Mona Island, located some 80 kilometers (about 50 miles) west of Puerto Rico, is a favorite of biologists looking to study seabirds, such as the red-footed booby, tortoises and giant iguanas.
Mona, a natural gem measuring 40 square kilometers (about 15.5 square miles), features a level of biodiversity that has earned it the nickname “Galapagos of the Caribbean.” EFE
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