Cuban Ship-Jumper Awaits Decision on Plea for U.S. Asylum
MASSENA, N.Y. (AP) _ Immigration officials are studying the case of a 27-year-old Cuban who jumped ship in northern New York this week and is seeking political asylum in the United States.
Jorge Rafael Fernandez-Coca of Havana was stopped by two U.S. Border Patrol agents Wednesday night after he leaped from a Cuban ship at the Eisenhower Lock in the St. Lawrence Seaway, federal officials said.
In order to gain asylum, Fernandez-Coca must prove he would be persecuted for political, religious or racial reasons if he returned home, said Benedict Ferro, district director of the Immigration and Naturalization Service in Buffalo.
On Thursday, immigration officials in Buffalo held a hearing on the case, but they did not issue any comment on the session. The investigation could take several weeks, they said.
Fernandez-Coca was being held in Buffalo on a charge of illegal entry.
He was a worker on the VIII Congreso ship, which was transporting grain through the seaway, which connects the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean.
″It’s unlikely he would be put back on that ship,″ which continued to Toronto, Ferro said.
Fernandez-Coca has relatives in Miami, but this does not insure that he will be given asylum, the immigration official said.