Two Cubans who had been ordered deported return to the U.S. by sea
BY ALFONSO CHARDY
It is common for immigration agents to encounter undocumented immigrants
who have returned to the United States after being previously deported.
What is not common is for the agents to find Cuban immigrants who have
received final orders of deportation to return from Cuba among
newly-arrived groups of island rafters.
But that's what happened recently in South Florida where U.S. agents
discovered two Cubans who had previously lived in the United States,
received deportation orders from immigration judges because of criminal
convictions and then returned to Cuba on their own.
In both cases, immigration officials reinstated prior deportation
orders, but neither Cuban will be expelled to the island immediately
because for now Havana does not formally accept repatriation of Cubans
unless they are intercepted at sea or if their names are on a list of
nearly 3,000 people who arrived during the Mariel boatlift.
The first of the two cases unfolded on July 4, U.S. Independence Day,
when a Coast Guard cutter intercepted a boat carrying Cuban migrants
about eight miles from Key Largo.
Cutter crew members detained the Cuban migrants for possible
repatriation, but one of them — William Herrera Roque — was taken to
shore because officials found he was in possession of a document known
as a parole, which Cuban migrants receive after arriving without visas
and seeking to stay under the Cuban Adjustment Act.
Once ashore, federal immigration agents transported Roque Herrera to the
Border Patrol station in Marathon where they checked his immigration and
criminal background, according to court records.
During the background check, Border Patrol agents found that Roque
Herrera, 43, had first come to the United States in 1994, possibly
during the rafter exodus.
On April 24, 2001, an immigration judge ordered his deportation,
according to a criminal complaint in the case. Although the complaint
does not explain why he was ordered deported, deportation orders against
Cubans generally stem from criminal convictions.
Somehow, Roque Herrera received another deportation order on Oct. 24,
2003. The criminal complaint does not explain how this happened, but it
may be that Roque Herrera departed the United States at some point
previously, returned to the United States and perhaps committed another
crime, without the authorities having realized that he had been expelled
According to the criminal complaint, Roque Herrera was indicted in 2013
after returning to the U.S. at the time.
The record of the case shows that Roque Herrera left the United States
on his own between 2003 and 2013 and then returned with another group of
rafters intercepted in April 2013 near Key Biscayne.
A grand jury indicted Roque Herrera and asked for a maximum sentence of
10 years in prison if found guilty at trial.
But since Roque Herrera pleaded guilty, the judge gave him a lower
sentence: time served, according to the case file.
The second case involves Juan Miguel Velazquez García, whose arrest
occurred on July 18 when a boat carrying Cuban migrants arrived near
Marathon in the Florida Keys.
After Border Patrol agents transported the rafters to Marathon, they
discovered that Velazquez García had received a previous deportation
order on Feb. 20, 2003.
During an interrogation, Velazquez Garcia "admitted that he had
self-deported on or about July 12, 2010, and illegally entered Cuba,"
according to a criminal complaint in the case file.
The complaint does not say whether the agents who interrogated Velazquez
García, 49, asked him why he had decided to return to Cuba on his own
despite having the pending deportation order. Velazquez García
originally came to the United States on July 12, 2000, according to the
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Source: Two Cubans who had been ordered deported return to the U.S. by
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