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Cubans fleeing to US creates waves

Regional 22 Apr, 2022 Follow News

Cubans attempt reaching America in dangerous vessels

Cubans are fleeing the island in record numbers

Desperate Cuban entering the US illegally has become such a problem that American and Cuban officials met in Washington this week to discuss migration concerns.

It was the highest-level formal US talks with Havana since President Joe Biden took office last year. The meeting came at a time when Biden’s administration is grappling with rising numbers of migrants attempting to cross the US border from Mexico, with Cubans making up a growing portion of them. Cubans are attempting to leave the island en masse after decades of oppression, exacerbated in recent years by tightened US sanctions and the covid pandemic.

Tensions between Washington and Havana over the Cuban government’s crackdown on protests, continuing American sanctions on the communist-ruled island and other issues have made it difficult for the countries to cooperate on challenges such as irregular migration. Leading the Cuban delegation was the deputy foreign minister, Carlos Fernandez de Cossio. The delegation met with senior officials of the US state department and other agencies.

The US wants Cuba to take back more deportees from among the record numbers of Cubans arriving at the US-Mexico border. Cuba has said it supports legal, orderly and safe migration. It blames the US for the increase in irregular migration, saying cold war-era sanctions and a decision to close the American consular section in Havana encourage Cubans to seek riskier routes to leave the island.

The state department last month said it would again begin processing some visas for Cubans in Havana to start reducing the backlog after a four-year hiatus, but progress has been slow.

The Cuban government has not accepted deportation flights carrying Cubans from the United States for more than six months, a US Department of Homeland Security spokesperson said. There are about 40,000 Cubans in the US with a final deportation order from an immigration judge, according to the spokesperson.

Cuba has said it supports legal, orderly and safe migration. It blames the United States for the spike in irregular migration, saying Cold War-era sanctions and a decision to close the American consular section in Havana encourage Cubans to seek riskier routes off the island.

A record number of migrants attempted to cross the US-Mexican border during Biden’s first year in office. American officials are preparing for even higher numbers this year. 

Amid Cuba’s faltering economy, after Nicaragua lifted visa requirements for Cubans in November, many dropped everything, sold their homes and took a flight for Managua, with hopes of joining the mainland “migrant highway” north through Central America to the US.

Nicaragua, a close regional ally of Cuba, said the move was intended to promote commercial exchange, tourism and humanitarian family relations.


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