Cuba Again Authorizes Repatriation Flights of Emigrants from the United States

The measure sends a “symbolic message” to deter other groups of potential Latin American migrants from trying to cross the Mexican border. (ImpactoVisión News/YouTube/Captura)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 12 November 2022 — The Cuban Government again accepts the return by air of migrants detained by the United States at its border with Mexico, although this option will only apply for the time being to “occasional” groups, according to the Reuters agency.

The measure, promoted by the Barack Obama Administration in 2017 and suspended during the coronavirus pandemic, is a “new but limited tool to stop the number of Cubans crossing the border,” three anonymous US officials told Reuters.

Officials pointed out that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service (ICE) is holding a dozen citizens of the Island, whose asylum application was rejected, and that the United States intends to return them to Havana. However, they are waiting for enough Cubans in the same conditions to organize a deportation flight.

Despite the fact that the repatriations of Cubans detained at the border with Mexico had been interrupted during the pandemic (there were 1,500 deportations the previous year), Joe Biden’s Administration regularly returns Cubans arriving by sea. The number of people sent to Havana by the US Coast Guard has risen to more than 5,600 so far this year.

According to Reuters, the measure sends a “symbolic message” to deter other groups of potential Latin American migrants from trying to cross the Mexican border, and seeks to contain, at least partially, the flow of Cubans advancing to the United States from Nicaragua, through the “route of volcanos.”

The United States arrested 2.2 million Latin Americans at its border during 2022, which represented a record. At least half of them were prevented from passing and returned to Mexico, while only 2% of the Cubans detained were not allowed to enter US territory.

The agency adds that the US State Department, the White House and the Immigration Service declined to offer any comments on the cases.

This week, two senior U.S. officials — Rena Bitter, Undersecretary of Consular Affairs of the State Department, and Ur Mendoza Jaddou, Director of Citizenship and Immigration Services – visited Havana to talk to the Government about the serious immigration situation between the two countries.

In addition to the complete resumption of consular services in Havana beginning in 2023, Bitter and Mendoza expressed their “concern” about the human rights situation on the Island, the lack of freedoms and the imprisonment of hundreds of activists.

The mass exodus from the Island has already surpassed 224,000 Cubans who arrived in the United States in just one year. The figure exceeds that of the previous migratory waves in 1980 and 1994, and it is increasing.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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