Fifth Planeload Of Cubans Deported; Total Reaches 201
MARIETTA, Ga. (AP) _ Seventy-five Cubans were deported Tuesday under the government’s plan to send 2,700 unwanted refugees back to Cuba, immigration officials said, bringing to 201 the number of Cubans flown home since February.
The flight, the fifth in the program, was the largest so far, said Mario Ortiz, a spokesman for the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
The charter plane took off at 2:20 p.m. Tuesday from Dobbins Air Force Base near Marietta, northwest of Atlanta.
Under an agreement reached Dec. 14 between the United States and Fidel Castro’s government, about 2,700 Cuban refugees - considered undesirable because of criminal records or mental illness - are to be deported.
They were among 125,000 Cubans who arrived in this country five years ago in the ″Freedom Flotilla″ boatlift from the Cuban port of Mariel. Most of those scheduled for deportation are being held at the Atlanta federal penitentiary.
Lawyers for the Cubans have successfully fought some of the deportations in court. U.S. District Judge Charles A. Moye Jr. granted reprieves Tuesday morning for 23 refugees scheduled to leave on the latest flight.
Last week, however, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals lifted stays of deportation that Moye had previously granted to 44 Cuban prisoners.
Of the 75 Cubans sent home Tuesday, about 23 left voluntarily, Ortiz said. ″They signed releases and ended their fight to stay in this country.″
All 75 had been convicted of crimes in the United States, he said.
Duke Austin, an INS spokesman in Washington, said the agency hopes to increase the pace of the flights until 100 Cubans are being deported each month. ″That will probably mean at least two flights a month,″ he said.
The INS sent one planeload of refugees back to Cuba in February and one in March. There were two flights in April.