TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Two dozen migrants who were recently rescued at sea by a cruise ship out of Tampa have now been turned over to family members here in the United States, WFLA has learned.

The Carnival cruise ship Paradise rescued 24 Cuban refugees at sea after finding their overloaded boat adrift off the coast of Cuba last week. Carnival says the ship’s captain gave the group medical attention, food and water.

When the ship returned to Tampa on Aug. 4, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers inspected and screened the migrants.

A spokesperson for U.S. Customs and Border Protection says, “all migrants were served a notice to appear before an immigration judge and paroled into the U.S. into the custody of family members.”

Rafael Pizano with Casa Cuba in Tampa says he’s surprised the migrants were not sent back to Cuba.

“We were under the impression they would be sent back,” Pizano said. “Once you are taken into custody by U.S. Coast Guard, they are taken care of, their health conditions are met, they are fed but usually they are turned back to the imprisoned island so to speak.”

Pizano says the conditions are so dire in Cuba right now, he expects to see more people risk their lives to leave the country.

“It’s sad, but a little bit of happiness that they got to safety,” he said. “But when you see people risk their lives and family members get on a makeshift boat to go into the Florida Straits, it’s a scary thing for anyone who has been in a regular vessel.”

Pizano says he believes this case may represent a change in policy about how Cubans are treated if they make it to the U.S.

“It’s a unique case, they were captured at sea, they didn’t make it here. They were saved by a cruise line,” he said. “It’s going to be interesting to hear it case by case. It’s one big bundle. Naturally you would want them to have their freedom, what they risked their lives for, but it’s undetermined.”