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Relatives wonder if their loved ones arrived off Sugarloaf Key

Democracy Movement working to connect Cuban migrants with their families


MIAMI – Andy Oliva Carillo and Maria Milian Carillo are cousins who took to the sea last week from Cuba. 

Their families have been worried ever since their departure from the island nation, as they're left wondering if they made it ashore.

Now, they want to know if their loved ones are among the 21 Cuban migrants who arrived Friday at American Shoal Light.

The group ditched their boat and swam to the lighthouse, which is about 5 miles offshore from Sugarloaf Key, when the U.S. Coast Guard approached them.

After a standoff that last more than five hours, the migrants came down from the lighthouse and are now awaiting federal authorities to decide if reaching the lighthouse near the Florida Keys equates with reaching U.S. land.

Under the U.S. "wet foot, dry foot" policy, Cubans who reach U.S. soil are typically allowed to stay in the country, while those intercepted at sea are sent back.  

The Carillo family believes its relatives are among those 21 Cuban migrants who arrived last week. 

"Our biggest worry is not knowing if they’re part of the group," Oscar Carillo said. "If they're not part of this group, they say they must be lost at sea."

The Democracy Movement is helping Oscar Carillo and other families like his locate their loved ones. 

Ramon Saul Sanchez has been compiling a list of names of migrants who've taken to sea and is in touch with the Coast Guard.

The Democracy Movement is also fighting to keep the 21 migrants in the U.S. The organization cites a 10-year-old case in which Cuban migrants made it to a column attached to the old Seven Mile Bridge in the Keys.

"A judge already determined that the old Seven Mile Bridge, although it was broken on both ends, was still U.S. property and therefore U.S. territory," Sanchez said. 


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