Arrival in Florida
Freedom Gate, Freedom House, and the Cuban Refugee Center were the three points of service of the Cuban Refugee Program. After clearing customs and immigration in the Freedom Gate area of the airport, arriving refugees met their waiting relatives or were transferred to the nearby Freedom House, a temporary housing facility. Refugees remaining in South Florida could register for services with the Cuban Refugee Center.
Among Cubans and Cuban-Americans, el refugio (or the "the refuge") still connotes not only the Cuban Refugee Program but also its headquarters in downtown Miami. As time passed, more symbolism was added to the building associated with the first days in America, and el refugio also came to be known as the Freedom Tower.
The verso of this photograph reads: "During the heavy influx of Cuban refugees this was the daily sidewalk scene outside the U.S. Cuban Refugee Center, Miami. Some days it was impossible to close down activities until well along in the evening hours."