Coral Gables

Cuban Migrants Detained After Coming Ashore in Coral Gables

CBP is investigating this as a maritime smuggling event.

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Law enforcement Monday intercepted seven Cuban migrants who were found wandering inside a park in Coral Gables.

The migrants, ages 24-40, spent eight days at sea before coming ashore to Matheson Hammock Park. Marine Patrol is searching for evidence of the boat they were in, sources said.

Coral Gables and Miami-Dade police provided them with water, food and blankets as they waited for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

The migrants, who are from Havana, claim they were not part of the summer protests that sparked worldwide condemnation and rallies across South Florida, saying they had to keep a low profile because they were already building the boat and didn't want to get caught.

Sources told NBC 6 it is possible the migrants were dropped off at a sand bar at Matheson Park near the Redfish restaurant.

CBP is investigating this as a maritime smuggling event.

Miguel Diaz, an attorney at Arce Immigration, says if smuggling is involved, it could increase the chances of the migrants not being deported.

Migrants from Cuba came ashore at a park in Coral Gables. NBC 6's Jamie Guirola reports

"There are two specific visas that are available to people who are subjected to human trafficking," he said.

The migrants could also apply for political asylum. Previously, Cuban migrants had automatic special protection if they stepped one foot on U.S. soil. The "wet foot, dry foot" policy, as it was called, was done away with by the Obama Administration.

"They need to prove they have a fear of prosecution by the Cuban government by accounts of having a political opinion against the government," Diaz said.

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