The United States Reopens an Office in Cuba for Asylum and Family Reunification Procedures

The office, administered by the Citizenship and Immigration Service, will conduct the relevant interviews and study the applications. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 17 August 2023 — The United States Government announced on Thursday that it will reopen an office in Havana with the aim of processing applications for family reunification programs and relatives of political refugees, a service that has not been available for five years. The announcement coincides with the return to the Island of 29 Cubans, deported from Miami by air.

In a statement, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said that the office in Havana, administered by the Citizenship and Immigration Service, will conduct the relevant interviews and study the applications.

The objectives of this reopening, according to the US Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, are to help “reduce the number of irregular crossings” at the border, leave human traffickers without resources and “simplify access to legal, safe and orderly routes for those seeking humanitarian relief” in the United States.

The office will also provide other services, such as the processing of refugee cases and the collection of biometric data for U visa applicants, for victims of criminal acts.

While the announcement was being made public, a flight with 29 Cubans arrived in Havana from Miami. The migrants returned on this trip, the fifth of their kind since last April, tried to enter the country “without authorization,” explained a brief statement from the U.S. Embassy in Havana.

Among the Cubans who arrived on the Island is Ariel Zayas Muñoz, who escaped from the Island five years ago and whose deportation came after his arrest, three weeks ago – by virtue of a deportation order I220B – while attending an appointment of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service (ICE).

As usual in every deportation notice, the U.S. authorities officially warned Cubans not to put their safety or that of their family at risk with illegal travel.

After the resumption of repatriation flights last April, the U.S. returned 123 Cubans to the Island. The following month, a second operation returned 66 migrants to Havana.

Last June, 36 Cubans were deported from Miami International Airport. The U.S. authorities warned that “they will not be able to return to the U.S. in the next five years. In July, another 33 Cubans were expelled on a fourth flight.

The return by air was adopted by the Barack Obama Administration in 2017 as a “limited” tool to curb the number of Cubans crossing the U.S. border with Mexico, but it was suspended during the coronavirus pandemic.

Data from the Customs and Border Protection Office (CBP) specify that the number of Cubans who have crossed the southern border has increased from 38,139 in fiscal year 2021, to 220,321 in 2022 and to more than 110,000 in the first 9 months of the current fiscal year.

During the current fiscal year, which began on October 1, more than 6,800 Cubans have been intercepted and returned by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Translated by Regina Anavy 


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