8 U.S.C. § 1324/Bringing Cuban Nationals into the United States – The Cuban Adjustment Act and the Wet-Foot/Dry-Foot policy that allows Cuban nationals who reach United States soil to apply for permanent residency if they had been admitted into the United States and are present for at least two years does not give Cuban nationals official authorization to enter, come to, or reside in the United States.
Julio Estrada and Bartolo Hernandez were convicted under 8 U.S.C. § 1324(a)(2) of bringing and conspiring to bring four noncitizen Cuban baseball players into the United States . To be convicted under § 1324, Estrada and Hernandez must have brought or attempted to bring an alien that “has not received prior official authorization to come to, enter, or reside in the United States.” Estrada was sentenced to sixty-three months’ imprisonment and Hernandez was sentenced to forty-six. They appealed, arguing that the Cuban Adjustment Act and the Wet-Foot/Dry-Foot policy authorized Cuban players to enter the United States, that there was insufficient evidence to support their convictions, and that the district court erred in its evidentiary rulings.
The Court disagreed, holding that the CAA and the Wet-Foot/Dry-Foot policy does “not supply ‘prior official authorization’ for Cuban citizens to enter, come to, or reside in the United States.” The Court noted that the CAA “permitted Cuban citizens to apply for permanent residency if they had been admitted or paroled into the United States and physically present in the United States for at least two years.” The Court further noted that the Wet-Foot/Dry-Foot policy limited the scope of the CAA only to Cuban nationals that actually reached United States soil.
The Court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion when denying a motion to dismiss, granting a motion in limine, and denying proposed jury instructions.
The Court also held that there was sufficient evidence to support Estrada’s and Hernandez’s convictions.
Appeal from the Southern District of Florida
Opinion by Pryor, joined by Rosenbaum and Branch
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