Homeless Cuban migrants to be held at Camillus House until processed

11 men, 1 woman entered U.S. at Mexican border last month

MIAMI – A group of 12 Cuban migrants who crossed from Mexico into the U.S. late last month will call Camillus House home until they are processed by immigration officials.

The 11 men and one woman, who fled Cuba years ago and have been living in Ecuador, have no family or friends in South Florida and have been living in a parking lot in Doral for the past few days.

Because they didn't enter the U.S. by sea via the wet-foot/dry-foot policy, they must file the necessary immigration paperwork themselves and set up an appointment, which they have scheduled for September, officials said.

Cuban migrants who enter the U.S., often in makeshift rafts, are typically processed immediately, and the paperwork takes about a week to complete.

Officials at Camillus House heard about the group's struggle and are putting them up in a room at its downtown Miami facility near Jackson Memorial Hospital.

Refugee assistance agency Church World Services often takes in migrants to help them get on their feet, but said it won't be available to the group immediately.

Camillus House was founded in August 1960 to help Cuban exiles arriving in Miami and has been a shelter for both refugees and the homeless.

Authorities said 36 Cubans have arrived to the U.S. in the past four days. They fear that a growing number of migrants will risk their lives at sea because many fear that the wet-foot/dry-foot policy will soon come to an end, since the U.S. and Cuba are re-establishing diplomatic relations.

"Every time there is a conversation of normalizing relations or the Cuban Adjustment Act, there is a spike in the numbers of Cubans that are trying to cross the border," said city of Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado.

The wet-foot/dry-foot policy was established in 1995 as an amendment to the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966.

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