Court Permits Cuban, Haitian Repatriations
Cuban and Haitian refugees detained at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base do not have the same constitutional rights as U.S. citizens and may be returned home, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.
A government spokesman said there are no immediate plans to repatriate any of the Cubans.
A key issue in the appeals before a three-judge panel of the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals was whether the refugees have constitutional rights, such as access to lawyers. The government contended the refugees have no rights.
The judges’ unanimous ruling said laws governing the repatriation of refugees that were cited by the Cubans “bind the government only when the refugees are at or within the borders of the United States.”
About 21,000 Cubans are at the U.S. base on the coast of Cuba, and 7,800 more are being held in Panama. About 3,500 Haitians were at Guantanamo as the new year began, though the government has sent all but 771 home against their will.
In December the 11th Circuit blocked a series of restrictions on U.S. repatriation policy that a federal judge in Miami had imposed in response to lawsuits challenging the U.S. immigration policy.