U.S.-bound Cubans held at Guantanamo
From Susan Candiotti
Ramon Raul Sanchez of Democracy Movement says at least one Cuban has been held for nearly two years.
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MIAMI, Florida (CNN) -- About 50 Cuban migrants are being detained indefinitely at the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, according to an exile group in Miami.
Federal officials Tuesday confirmed the number.
One migrant has been held for nearly two years; another, age 10, has diabetes.
The Cubans were picked up at sea at various times trying to reach the United States, according to the exile group, Democracy Movement.
Normally they would have been returned to Cuba. U.S. policy requires all migrants interdicted at sea be sent home under what is known as the wet-foot, dry-foot rule.
But after interviews aboard U.S. Coast Guard cutters it was determined that those migrants appeared to meet the standard of having a well-founded fear of persecution if repatriated and, therefore, were diverted to Guantanamo, the exile group said.
The exile group said Cubans can be held at the base until the United States can find a third country that will take them.
A State Department spokesman referred CNN's questions to Homeland Security, which did not immediately respond.
Ramon Raul Sanchez, who heads Democracy Movement, said at least one Cuban has been held at the base nearly two years, and recently staged a hunger protest over U.S. immigration policy.
A spokesman for Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat from Florida, said the senator has been pushing the State Department to take action.
"It's not acceptable the administration would allow them to be trapped there for so long," said the spokesman, Dan McLaughlin.
According to Nelson's staff, when Haitians are taken to Guantanamo for similar reasons Canada accepts them after a relatively short time.
Sanchez wants the United States to give the Cubans family reunification visas, allowing them to join relatives in the United States.
But newly revised Homeland Security rules might complicate matters for those seeking family reunification.
While the updated policy announced last week eases restrictions on would-be Cuban immigrants, it also states, "Any Cuban who attempts to enter illegally the United States will be deemed ineligible for this beneficial treatment."
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