9 Cuban Defectors Granted Parole
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) - Nine Cubans who defected to the United States during Pope John Paul II's visit to Canada this summer were ordered released Wednesday from Immigration and Naturalization Service custody.
The nine had been held in several immigration detention facilities in Buffalo, N.Y., since leaving the July 28 Catholic conference in Toronto.
After learning of their detention Wednesday, Commissioner James
Ziglar asked for an immediate review of their cases and determined that
they would be paroled
pending resolution of their immigration status, the INS said in a statement.
INS spokesman Bill Strassberger said background checks have been
done on the nine people to ensure they are not a danger to the community
and that they have
After leaving the World Day Celebrations conference in Canada, the nine Cubans made it to border crossings near Buffalo and entered the United States. They then presented themselves to INS officials.
The release of the Cubans is a "recognition of the Cuban Adjustment Act," Strassberger said.
Under the 1966 act, Cubans admitted or paroled into the United
States are eligible to apply for permanent residency after they have been
physically present in the
United States for a year. Under the law, most Cubans who defect to the United States and are not interdicted at sea are released if they are not deemed dangerous.
"This does not represent a change in policy in the handling of Cubans arriving in the United States without visas. The U.S. government continues to encourage the safe, legal and orderly arrival of Cubans to the United States through normal immigration procedures," the INS said.
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla, had been working with the Cubans' families to secure their release.
"It was the right thing to do," she said. "It should have been an immediate release, but at long last they can face freedom."