One day in March 2010 Abraham Gonzalez, a Cuban who arrived in the United States in 1981, went to see an immigration officer about getting a work permit.
Instead of getting the document, Gonzalez was detained, faced deportation proceedings and, within months, was sent back to Cuba.
The deportation surprised not only the Gonzalez family but also South Florida immigration attorneys who represent Cubans ordered deported because of criminal convictions.
The reason: Only a limited number of Cubans who arrived during the 1980 Mariel boatlift — fewer than 3,000 — were supposed to be deported to the island because of a Havana-Washington agreement reached in 1984.
All other Cubans with pending deportation orders — more than 30,000 — have been released under supervision orders that require them to report periodically to immigration authorities but spare them from immediate removal. Gonzalez was ordered deported because of a 1982 drug-trafficking conviction.
By and large, non-Mariel Cubans with deportation orders have been told for years they would not be sent back to Cuba because the Castro regime does not take back those who are not on the 1984 list of 2,746 individuals.
But Gonzalez’s deportation, outlined in detail last week by his attorney and his Miami family, shows that there are exceptions to the rule.
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