MIAMI (AP) — A federal judge has ruled that a group of 21 Cuban migrants who reached a lighthouse off the Florida Keys last month are not on U.S. soil and must return to Cuba.
Judge Darrin Gayles ruled Tuesday that the American Shoal lighthouse does not count as dry land under U.S.'s "wet-foot, dry-foot" policy.
Lawyers for the migrants had argued the lighthouse is U.S. territory, and their clients should get to stay.
Attorneys for the federal government acknowledged the lighthouse is U.S. property but argued it was not equal to dry land.
The lighthouse is located about 7 miles from Sugarloaf Key. Under the "wet foot, dry foot" policy, Cubans who reach U.S. shores are usually allowed to stay, while those intercepted at sea are generally returned home.
The migrants have been aboard a Coast Guard cutter since May 20.