HAVANA TIMES — The three Cubans who arrived Friday at Port Everglades in southern Florida, hidden in a cargo ship from Havana, will face a legal process for political asylum as the only way to remain in the United States.
The Cubans arrived aboard a US ship carrying equipment used in the filming of the movie Fast and Furious 8 in Havana. Considered stowaways they have no alternative but to seek asylum to adjust their immigration status.
The arrival of the Cubans was confirmed Saturday by authorities of the marine terminal in the city of Fort Lauderdale, though their identities were not disclosed. The trio was handed over to officials of the Office of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for processing.
Even when they are released in the coming hours, their situation will be different from other Cuban immigrants crossing the Mexican/US border or managing to reach US shores crossing the Straits of Florida.
They don’t qualify for the benefits under the Cuba Adjustment Act
People who arrive as stowaways to US territory are not entitled to adjust their legal status even under the Cuban Adjustment Act. The only way for stowaways to avoid a deportation order is by obtaining political asylum before an immigration judge.
“The condition of being a stowaway is one of the exceptions precluded from applying for immigration status under the Cuban Adjustment Act,” said Willy Allen, an immigration attorney. “Asylum is a privilege that must be based on a credible fear of persecution”.
In November 2005, Allen won the request for political asylum in a notorious case of Cuban stowaway Sandra de los Santos, the young woman who arrived to Miami International Airport inside a wooden crate, shipped on an airplane by the DHL agency in Nassau, Bahamas, on August 24, 2004. The legal process lasted 15 months.
It is unknown how the Cubans got on the cargo ship. Sources from Havana indicate that they are people who worked in the production of Fast and Furious 8, which rolled through the streets of Havana from April 25 to May 6. All the cargo transported from the US for filming returned on the ship.
Topic of discussion
The shooting of the film by Universal Pictures took place in areas of the municipalities of Centro Havana and Old Havana, causing road closures and the reorganization of traffic, causing inconvenience to citizens.
The issue has been discussed in the official and alternative press and in the recent National Council of Writers and Artists of Cuba.
Universal Pictures was able to film in Cuba through a contract with the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry (ICAIC). The amount received by the Cuban authorities has not been revealed.
ICAIC was to receive payments for production services, while other payments were made to the tourism sector and for the spaces rented.
Fast and Furious 8 is scheduled for release in April 2017.
In a recent interview, the president of ICAIC, Robert Smith, said several projects of foreign producers wanting to film in Cuba are under consideration, but none as complex as Fast and Furious.