MIAMI (AP) – A group of Cuban migrants seeking to remain in the U.S. after they climbed onto a lighthouse several miles off the Florida Keys will not be sent back to Cuba immediately.
A Miami federal judge on Friday ordered an evidentiary hearing to be scheduled for next Thursday. The 21 migrants are on a Coast Guard cutter and will remain under U.S. control for at least the next week.
Under the “wet foot, dry foot” policy, Cubans who reach U.S. shores are usually allowed to stay, while those intercepted at sea are generally returned to the communist island.
A lawsuit filed on behalf of the migrants claims the 136-year-old American Shoal lighthouse on a reef off Sugarloaf Key should qualify as U.S. territory so the migrants can stay. U.S. officials disagree.