Judge decides to repatriate Cuban migrants found on Sugarloaf Key lighthouse

SUGARLOAF KEY, Fla. (WSVN) – A federal judge has made a decision to repatriate the Cuban migrants found on a lighthouse near Sugarloaf Key.

According to the judge, the lighthouse does not constitute as U.S. land. Therefore, the 21 migrants, who are now referred to as the “Lighthouse Cubans” will be sent back to their home country.

“I believe all arguments for freedom are good arguments,” said Gus García with the Democracy Movement.

The Coast Guard and the U.S. attorney’s office argued that the lighthouse is not considered American land. Cuban activists, however, said that the lighthouse is an American structure.

Later in the day, activists learned that the judge didn’t agree with their position on the issue. “This is a very sad moment for all of us,” said Cuban activist Ramón Saul Sánchez. “We have had our day in court, but we had hopes that freedom could also be enjoyed by these people after they have invested so much of their lives and after all the sacrifices they have done.”

Officials with the U.S. Coast Guard released a statement that read, “The judges ruled that the Cuban migrants who sought refuge on American Shoal Light are ‘feet wet’ and will be processed for repatriation in accordance with standard U.S. immigration policy.”

The only thing that could stop the repatriation is another move by the attorneys who are fighting for their freedom. At 3 p.m., Tuesday, the legal team held a meeting. It is unclear what actions, if any, their attorneys will take next.

On May 20, 24 migrants on a homemade boat made a swim to the American Shoal Lighthouse after they came in contact with the U.S. Coast Guard. Twenty-one made it to the lighthouse, seven miles off Sugarloaf Key.

Had the judge determined that the lighthouse constituted land, it would have allowed the group to stay, due to the U.S. wet-foot dry-foot policy.

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