As most Americans finished up their Fourth of July festivities, 28 Cubans washed ashore at the Southernmost Point in Key West on Friday morning, getting themselves one step closer to freedom.
Making the arduous journey with little else but the clothes on their backs, the refugees will now be processed and taken to a center near Miami, a local newspaper reported.
The 1995 revision to the Cuban Adjustment Act instituted a "wet foot, dry foot" policy, which dictates that Cuban refugees found at sea are to be sent home. Those who reach American soil, however, are put on a fast track to permanent residency and, eventually, citizenship.
A Key West police officer handed out American flags to the refugees, and they were all able to have their picture taken next to the Southernmost Point buoy, the paper reported.
Statistics released by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Coast Guard show that 705 Cubans have been apprehended at sea in the first six months of 2013, according to the paper.
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