Castro Leads Protest Against U.S. Immigration Policies

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:08 PM EDT

( - Cuban leader Fidel Castro led thousands of Cubans in a rally across the street from the U.S. Interests Section in Havana to protest American immigration policy.

Communist youth and student organizations in Cuba organized the rally after U.S. authorities decided last week to allow nine Cubans to remain in America. The nine fled the communist nation in a small plane that crashed in international waters near Florida.

The Castro government called the incident a "hijacking" and accused the United States of breaking "not only Cuban but also international law."

In the past, American authorities have returned airline hijackers to Cuba for prosecution. But the FBI said last Wednesday that the flight was not a "hijacking."

The Castro government once again on Monday voiced its opposition to the Cuban Adjustment Act, which allows Cubans who arrive on U.S. soil to remain in the United States. Castro believes the law encourages risky illegal immigration such as the bid last November by a group of Cubans - including the mother of Elian Gonzalez - to reach Florida.

Elian made it to Florida but was returned to his father in Cuba after a 7 month international custody battle.

The nine Cubans remain in the Miami area where they are expected to stay while they pursue American citizenship. They will not be able to apply for citizenship until next year, according to Immigration and Naturalization Service officials in Miami.