We might think that being rescued by a cruise ship, after floating in the ocean for days or weeks, would be a good thing. Cuban refugees, commonly found on or close to routes traveled by cruise ships, are brought aboard to be cared for. Cheering passengers feel good about it all but for the refugees, a hot meal on a cruise ship is about the last thing in the world they want.
It’s called the “Wet Foot, Dry Foot” policy that allows Cubans who reach U.S. soil on their own to take a fast track to permanent residency. But if they get picked up by a helpful cruise ship, they most likely go back to Cuba.
“The cruise line usually takes them on the ship, calls the U.S. Coast Guard who sails out to the scene, and the Coast Guard processes the refugees and sails them back to Cuba where they end up in Castro’s jails,” says maritime attorney James Walker on his CruiseLawNews website.
Friday night, some floating refugees apparently knew all about the Wet Foot, Dry Foot policy, refusing to be rescued by Royal Caribbean’s giant Oasis of the Seas. On board was our friend @NomadicMatt who tweeted, “Our @royalcaribbean cruise ship just stopped to help rescue Cuban refugees in raft that was stranded at sea.”But it did not take long for refugees to take on food and water then continue on their way, trying to leave before the U.S. Coast Guard arrived.
“There is a lot of yelling on the raft and at times they look like they are trying to get away as they know the coast guard was called,” tweeted @NomadicMatt.
Odds are, the Coast Guard found the refugees, picked them up and will send them back to Cuba. But in the cover of night, they might have eluded authorities and made it to shore on their own.
“Let’s hope the winds and currents and the grace of God bring the refugees ashore tonight and they plant their feet on U.S. soil and can begin free lives here in America,” concluded Walker.
[Flickr photo by TarikB]