The Disney Wonder cruise ship picked up 12 suspected Cuban migrants on Saturday on its way to the Cayman Islands. The Wonder, one of many Disney cruise ships, departed from Miami and stopped to pick up the suspected Cuban migrants.
CNN reports that the Cuban migrants were brought on board the Disney cruise ship, which has 11 decks of restaurants, pools, and recreation.
The suspected Cuban migrants were on what’s described as a “rustic” vessel in the Disney Wonder. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, “rustic” is a term used to describe dangerous, unseaworthy vessels.
Disney Wonder picks up suspected Cuban migrants at sea https://t.co/LpgXbc6BvW
— Lawrence (@whisker_plot) February 15, 2016
The Disney Cruise Line ships probably aren’t the greatest bunch of ships for detaining Cuban migrants.
Cruise Law News reports that there’s been an increase of Cuban migrants trying to get to the United States recently. Many see a link between the increase in Cuban migrants and President Barack Obama’s announcement that relations between Cuba and the United States are getting better.
This isn’t the first time that Cuban migrants were detained onboard a Disney Cruise. 2016 marks the latest occurrence, but back in 2013, eight Cuban migrants were picked up off the coast of Key West by a Disney Cruise line.
That time around, the Disney Wonder cruise ship wasn’t involved. Since Obama made that announcement, over 43,000 Cuban migrants have entered the United States in 2015, which is a 78 percent increase since last year.
— Independent US (@IndyUSA) February 15, 2016
“There is this concern that Cuba special privileges will be eliminated, so Cubans are trying to get out while the getting’s good,” said Marc Rosenblum, the deputy director of the U.S. immigration policy program at the Migration Policy Institute.
“Over the last several years, we’ve seen pretty sharp increases in the number of Cubans, especially traveling by land,” Rosenblum said.
Until recently, many Cuban migrants flew into Ecuador, which didn’t require a visa until several months ago. From there, they cut through Latin America until they got to the United States.
This recent trend of Cuban migrants making it via landfall make this Disney Cruise Line story quite rare. It’s already rare, as noted above, because the last rescue of Cuban migrants via a Disney Cruise Ship happened in 2013.
But what happens after the Cuban migrants get here?
“Even if they arrive illegally, they are admitted into the United States, and after a year and a day they are granted a green card,” Rosenblum said. “They are the only country in the world that enjoys that privilege.”
Disney cruise ship rescues 12 Cuban migrants near the Cayman Islands after they became stranded on their makeshift… https://t.co/6octHW5eTr
— Latikia (@latikia) February 15, 2016
The Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966 is to blame for these special privileges.
“When you look around the world and you look around the hemisphere, there’s a lot of other countries where people are fleeing at least as difficult circumstance, but aren’t subject to similar privileges,” Rosenblum continued.
With immigration reform being one of the main topics of discussion among campaigning politicians, it’s very likely that this privilege could change in the future.
For now, Disney Cruise Ships and other cruise lines will continue to pick up migrants and work in tandem with the U.S. Coast Guard.
In the end, this rare event for Disney Cruise Ships might not happen often for Disney in particular, but it’s perfectly normal for Cuban migrants to be picked up at sea by a host of other cruise ships.
[Photo by The Walt Disney Company/Getty Images]