The Welcome.US Website That Offers Sponsors to Cuban Migrants Collapses

So far, according to State Department figures, about 10,000 Cubans have used the humanitarian “parole” program. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, March 15, 2023 — The website of the NGO Welcome.US collapsed on Wednesday, minutes before opening the March application quota to benefit from the immigration program designed by Washington to legally enter the United States through a sponsor.

“The Welcome Connect platform has technical difficulties. We are working to fix this, and we will be online soon,” the page said from about 10:00 in the morning (Cuba time), an hour before the quota opened, which starts every 15th of the month.

The organization, founded in 2021 to support applications for Afghan refugees, expanded its work in 2022 for Ukrainians and, since last February, it also works for Cubans, Venezuelans, Nicaraguans and Haitians. In addition, it is endorsed by four former presidents and first ladies of the United States: Barack and Michelle Obama, George and Laura Bush, Bill and Hillary Clinton, and Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter.

Welcome.US connects potential sponsors in the United States with potential beneficiaries of the program who don’t know anyone who can vouch for them in the country. The sponsors have the support of the Government, which verifies the identity and background of the applicants.

“Our ultimate ambition is that each American community, and the nation as a whole, has the resources and willingness to receive newcomers, now and in the future,” says the website.

However, the organization, which defines itself as non-governmental and apolitical, affirms that its modest dimensions only allow it to accept a limited number of requests that they are able to handle.

The avalanche of users who wanted to connect today has knocked down the page. Among the hundreds of people who have reacted to the situation, some complained that there are those who try to sign on simultaneously for the program. Others pointed out that the concentration of applicants from four nationalities in the same day contributes to the collapse.

Last month, when the program began to operate, a multitude of Cubans were left unable to access due to the restrictions of the embargo, which prevent entry into some American pages. On this occasion, most followed the instructions to connect with VPN.

The eagerness of Cubans to find a sponsor was immediate after the launch of the humanitarian parole by the United States was announced at the beginning of this year. The permit, also aimed at Venezuelans, Nicaraguans and Haitians, opens the door for up to 30,000 migrants a month to enter legally if they have a resident in U.S. territory who will support them economically and cover their health expenses for two years.

So far, according to State Department figures, about 10,000 Cubans have used the program.

Translated by Regina Anavy

COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.